Time to Settle Accounts
December 1, 2012: Ducks in a row.
After brunch at Revolution, Rose and I headed north on Milwaukee toward an art gallery called Galerie F. They were having an “end-of-the-world” event and Rose wanted to buy her brother a print for his birthday.
“I sort of romanticize death,” she said with a laugh. “Also my brother is preparing. He’s got a year’s supply of food at his house.” A few short steps later and we were at the gallery.
It was empty, aside from a man on a computer behind the counter and a six-year-old girl wandering around holding brown construction paper. The space was white and rectangular, with framed prints along the left and posters along the right.
Rose led me toward the prints. “This is the one I’m getting him.”
The print was nine frames, 3x3x3, showing scenes of the end of the world. One showed a crawl of cars abandoning city life, one by one, bumper-to-bumper; in the foreground was a businessman who may as well have been making his morning commute, bored and annoyed, leaning out of his window.
One showed a headless man upright in front of the TV in his sports-themed man-cave. In the window to his right is an orange mushroom cloud.
One showed a baby in tears, a spilled pint of milk laying next to her and pouring out, while all surrounding buildings were rubble.
I slowly explored the rest of the wall while Rose walked to the front counter to talk to the man at the computer. And then – whoosh – I felt a gush of air behind me. I turned and saw the little girl was now running in circles with this long piece of construction paper blowing behind her.
“Laurie,” the man said, pointing toward the girl, “why don’t you sit back down and color?”
Her run came to a dramatic, two-step halt before she forgot the whole thing and ambled over to a long white ledge along the front window. Several markers of different colors were loose and rolling on the ledge, and she sat down on the ledge, picked up a black marker, and spread out the construction paper.
It had the wide/short dimensions of the bottom half of a flag. She was coloring vertical lines of different colors about five inches apart. She picked up a thick black Sharpie and pulled off the cap. She colored a line, and then looked up at me, perturbed.
“This smells weird,” she said. “I don’t like what it smells like.” She grinned, teeth just coming in. “Smell it,” she said, raising the marker toward my nose.
“You’re not going to draw on my nose, right?” I asked. She shook her head and I smelled the Sharpie. “You’re right. Smells bad.”
She continued drawing vertical lines onto the brown construction paper – orange, blue, black, red.
“What are you drawing?” I asked her. She stopped coloring and leaned backward, examining the paper and the lines.
“I don’t know yet,” she said, and then cautiously returned to her lines.
Rose skipped back over. “Got two!” she said. “One for him, and that one,” she said, pointing to a print on the wall, “for me.”
We thanked the man, said goodbye to the girl, and walked outside.
It was warm yet the sky looked cold. People were out and active. The scene hummed with misplaced energy.
“I like that place,” I said at last about the gallery.
“Isn’t it great?” said Rose, holding her new prints in a roll.
“Weird stepping back into all that end-of-the-world stuff,” I said. “Haven’t thought about it in a while.”
“December 21st,” she said. “Get your jollies in now.”
NEXT: The future. (12.21.12, as part of the 3six5 project) (actually, see below)
NEXT on readjack: Because it’s cold out there. (1.1.13)
PREVIOUS: Home field. (10.25.12)
Time to Settle Accounts – originally from the3six5 project
December 21, 2012: The future.
“Did we make it? Are we here?”
That Marty McFly circa Back to the Future Part II-esque quote flashed in my head this morning after I woke up, reached for my phone to check the time, and saw the date DECEMBER 21, 2012 on the screen. Oh shit, I thought, we’re here. I quickly raised the blinds over the window next to my bed and scanned the block for chaos.
I texted a survivalist friend of mine who, like the rest of us, is battling a cold.
ME: Today’s the day… *scary haunted house whistle*
HER: Don’t I know it! Despite my weakened immune system, I’m confident in my ability to run for my life and/or take what I need by force.
True, and I was on high alert when I finally did go out. The air was cold & biting yet oddly benign, as if a gruesome chill had blanketed the city and then dulled and crusted over. All around, people were mute and glassy eyed. The sidewalks were slick with ice and there was snow on the windshields.
Of course, our collective doomed malaise could just be the result of nobody being particularly happy that winter is finally kind of here, and could have nothing to do with any apocalypse. And that’s good, because I don’t know about you, but I woke up this morning hoping that we had many more days to live than one.
There are many reasons for that, but one is definitely that a 2012 doomsday means missing out on 2015, my lifelong future year. The children of the 40s grew up with 1984, the children of the 60s with 2001, and the children of the 80s with 2015. It’d be a huge letdown to wait 23 years, have 3 to go, and not get there.
On the other end, my survivalist friend is rooting for chaos. Like me, she’s been imagining that specific glory so long, it’d be a shame to waste it. Because it’s the little things, you know?