Things have never been worse.
It’s in the creakiness of the economy, the deflationary flop of your dollar, the way your pants no longer fit anymore. It’s in the sloppiness of the hasty mornings, the way they spill over like slush into the afternoon. It’s in the business meetings where you yawn audibly, in the homeless that have taken up camp in parts of the city where they hadn’t years ago, the coffee-that-is-too-hot-and-then-too-cold-as-you’ve-waited-too-long. It is in the moments where you realize you have forgotten your grade 2 teacher’s name, and promise to remember this brief attempt at recall at least. It’s in your quick unease, your muting anger, the bold, bustling breathe that you swallow. It’s in your upset stomach, again ruining an evening. It’s in the tired look of a stop sign melted by the heat or the caraccas of a racoon beside it, being feasted on by other racoons. It’s in how your flight is delayed once more. It’s in the way you wonder why you are still in this city, where there are millions of other places to be still. It’s in the way you remind yourself that in those same cities, different people think as you do, hoping to be elsewhere. It’s in that elsewhere, in that everywhere, in everything and everyone and every day.
You know this, of course; that things are bad and that they will get worse, for how can we still be wearing masks and how can things cost so much and how is one country killing another and how is it possible that I’ll never be able to afford a home after doing everything I have been told and how is it that now, despite all the idle talking of yesteryears where they assured you about each microcosm of your life, no one knows discusses the answer. Their mouths agape instead, heralding horror, prophesizing doom, ensuring that these days are the days for after, there will be no days.
It is a boring, helpless banter, one where deep into the madness, you reminded that, like time before this terrible time, others will figure out the whole thing very soon.
This helps. Absolving. Pairing down. Focusing only on direct relations. Like this letter, for example. It only requires a moment of your time. Meanwhile, the world whirls. A baby is born and another baby dies and this letter keeps going, chugging really, asking you to repeat: things have never been worse.
Parts of you decry such a soulless statement. All’s well. Needs are met. Statistically, people are living longer. Violence is limited. Medicine makes miracles. And there is bounty, too, if one searches. Sunlight abounds. Beaches are plentiful. And there’s poetry, some of the greatest lines, that can be read, re-read, and made as one’s own on an incomparable summer’s day.
So, you persist. You storm. You live, even if things have never been worse.
But maybe it is a morning where your breath stinks something putrid or a shopping cart that errs persistently to the left or a balloon that won’t inflate no matter how hard you blow or a rock you stepped on that ruined your shoes or the 12th unsolved murder or the 10th school shooting or a stale peanut in your salad or your wallet weeping green or how time is supposed to heal all, but here you are, time in time, with nothing changed and things, you repeat, only getting worse. Then, night comes. Your breath still stinks. You’ll see a doctor you tell yourself. Tomorrow, you’ll schedule it. Tomorrow, others will figure out the whole thing very soon.