Those chilled or are they warm last moments. Last moments sought after so many final straws untended. You’ve seen too many make that choice, infinite silence, the eternal blank, or so you’ve come to believe. Correct or not, you’ll never know until the switch is flipped.
This perpetual process of getting up again and again and again. The words stay down would be a hug were they in your nature. This day in the supermarket, you inside the glass shell, watching faces smiling, a middle-age woman and young man happy to unexpectedly see each other hug and laugh. You turn your cart quickly into an aisle, trembling, fighting back tears, in your glass shell. Invisible.
Has it finally happened? Are you, after all these years finally (Could it be, thankfully? Survival is exhausting) collapsing into pieces, dust to dust?
And then, out of the corner of your eye, a sign in produce reading, Ripe Ass Avocados. You look at the sign. Ripe Hass Avocados, not Ripe Ass Avocados. You begin to laugh. You are smiling and laughing. You share the misread story with a few customers in the checkout line. People, cashier and bagger, laughing.
Back home, putting away the groceries, better now, you pause. Think. Saved by a sign. This time.
Final straws. They’re everywhere.
I am two years old visiting Mommom and Poppop in Rumson. New Jersey. Mommom and Poppop are my mother’s parents and I adore them, especially Poppop. They have boats and a house on Highland Avenue that looks out over a canal that leads onto the Navesink River towards the Oceanic Bridge. Their home is a heaven to me.
I love Mommom and Poppop, especially Poppop. He reminds me of Jimmy Stewart. He speaks in a stumbling, soft-voiced cadence. His eyes always glow warmth and kindness. He also smokes a pipes. He keeps several of them in a lovely wooden pipe rack near his large wing chair. I love to put the pipes in my mouth and pretend I’m just like Poppop and my father. My father smokes pipes too. Both would prefer I play with the pipes only when they are around.
But I am an early riser.
Early one morning I crawl out of bed, make my way into the living room, climb up into Poppop’s large wing chair, remove one of his pipes from the rack, and pretend to puff away. Pieces of smoked tobacco fall from the pipe and speckle me in my white t-shirt and underwear. I don’t care. I’m having fun sitting in this big wing chair just like Poppop. I look out the window with the pipe stem firmly clamped in my teeth. I have to hold the pipe with my hand because it is heavy. I hear a sound, turn, and there is Poppop looking right at me, trying desperately to look annoyed at me for playing with his pipes when he wasn’t there.
I look down at the black speckles of tobacco all across my front and brush them away saying, “Damn ants!”
Peter & Poppop circa 1955