Sunday, April 13, 2014

All the Rooms You Left Behind

People live their lives as a road map to a terminal illness. It looks from one's teenage years like a one way ticket to Hollywood, but it's actually a hallway to a waiting room, an operating room, a recovery room. In the end, your life becomes a single room wallpapered in pastels and grip bars, with all of your things collecting dust in the rooms you left behind. You lived your life as a series of packed suitcases, unwashed dishes, becoming a stranger that even you didn't recognize. The face in the mirror was a ghost, a relic, a ruin dug up every morning and mislabeled by future archaeologists as a smile.

The walls along the way were the most amazing holographs, all James Dean and teenage rebellion, marriage and kids and therapy, and all you wanted was some God damned peace and quiet when they left, but the silence was so loud.

You folded into chairs and couches and told your story to strangers with eyes glazed as Krispy Kreme donuts. You worked in more factories than you can count. You made car parts and litter boxes while the world slept, and you said to yourself: "this is a temporary gig." You said to yourself: "I'm out of here once Hollywood calls," and you pictured yourself, suitcase in hand and boarding a train.

The pavement along the way was scarred by one-week relationships and potholes and delusions and speed bumps, but you made it; this is Hollywood. The glowing light at the end of the tunnel was an atom bomb.

This world was over before the zygote became a human, before the fumbled proposal in a small town bar, before you watched your kids, these adult children, walk across the graduation stage and out of your life. This world was over before you knew your own name, echoing in the dark hallways and the musty rooms behind you: a boring classroom here, a sex-smelling bedroom there, a car accident with glass in your skin, healing and returning to the assembly line.

The problem was that you could never admit you worked in the factory, so you could never really leave. All those suitcases you packed mean nothing, now.

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