Wet January

I’ve spent most of winter break inside, since there isn’t much to do out there either, and it’s warm in here. But today is warmer, and
something I believe makes me want to want to go outside and so I do.
The snow and ice from the leftover snow have melted into puddles, and
the sky is still gray from morning rain. I remember 7th grade science
class’s weather unit where they told me that changes in temperature
are often accompanied by changes in pressure that lead to rain; I
remember that a lot when it rains but don’t know how true it is but
probably a little. The phone says it’s 50 degrees out, but the wind is
chilly and it doesn’t feel as unseasonably warm as I had hoped.

I open up the sliding door into the backyard. The grass is brown and
dead from the earlier cold, and the trees branches are wiry and jagged
without their green coating. The leaves they lost in autumn have piled
up on the patio and mushed down from rain and snow and the outdoors;
they stick to my shoes. Some sort of nuts or seeds from one of the
trees is all over one segment of the patio; I wish you knew the words
to describe it but I don’t. The texture as I step on them is strange.

The plants that my mom and I tried to grow over the summer when I was
home are still in their pots on the patio and also dead. If you take
better care of plants do you unpot them while they are still alive? It
seems wrong to see their brown and rotting corpses in the soil now,
dead without giving you the value or fulfillment that we both had
hoped they might. Discouraging for trying again the next time it’s
warm out. It’s hard to believe in intrinsic value of beauty when
you’re responsible for some ugliness.

I head to the front yard along the side of the house. I have to take
the back door out because the garage door buttons don’t work. Everyone
else in the house has a garage door opener and doesn’t have to worry
about this, but I don’t live here so it’s hard to justify purchasing
it. I don’t have a house key either, since when you did live there the
garage worked fine. I left the screen door unlocked and hope my mom
doesn’t talk to me about letting people break in again when I get
home. I can’t imagine a random person walking into our backyard and
testing our screen door to see if it’s locked; doesn’t seem real to
me. Not a concern.

Along the side of the house is a gray stone path that leads from the
patio to the front yard. When I was younger I used to swing a stick
around as I walked the stone path back and forth and imagine fantasy
worlds of jewels and dragons and elves and wizards. The stones are
have suffered from years of rain and snow too; the quaint artificial
naturalness of their purchase state has snapped off, revealing a white
and sharp underside. This was happening when I was a child too, we
aren’t the first family to live in this house, but it seems worse and
uglier and more significant now. Back then I knew the path well and
knew which parts of the stones were falling off; now it seems
forgotten, and it’s not just the fault of my family (left your
hometown for somewhere new / don’t be surprised now it’s leaving you).

I run along the stone path to get to the front yard; the fresh air
after days of being inside fills me with cleanness. John’s car is in
the driveway. I get inside and it feels clean too. I sit down and
press my hand to my collarbone to correct my posture, because of the
cleanness. I need to keep it as long as I can. We exchange necessarily
ironic hellos; there’s no other way to greet each other anymore. John
lives and goes to school here, and I go to school in another city but
always end up back here.

John always ends up wanting to go to the used retro game store: no
matter what the excuse for us doing things together is. I think he
likes the potential space for jokes and memories of the past to
resurface in a place with a conceit for “utility”, if buying games can
be considered utility. He doesn’t buy nearly as many games as old
games that he talks about for being what he played as a child and old
games that he jokes about for being weird. Why is there a Transformers
the movie the video game for playstation 2. I don’t ever buy any
games. We walk down all the aisles of the store to make sure there are
no potential conversation topics missed, and then he goes to the
counter to buy his games. I have to get out my phone here because I
don’t know what I could possibly do or say to the cashier that could
be better than nothing.

Next we go to Goodwill, which I also end up at a lot when I’m home,
but that’s probably me, not John. Goodwill has similar conceits of
utility and objects from the past leading to conversation topics but
it’s not as boring and childhood-regressive as video games are, at
least to me. I always look at the Goodwill’s book selection but I’m
beginning to get tired of it in the same way I am of video games. Used
culture sitting on the shelves of a store is exhausting: it’s the same
sort of books over and over. Buying new culture from fresh shops means
you can avoid the same thick sedimentation of decade old and now
useless and unwanted items. The very small potential for some value in
them is what makes it worst; books sitting unread that could probably
never again mean anything to anyone. I try to browse the clothing
selection because most of my old clothes have started to feel thick
and wrong, but John isn’t that interested in that so we leave here

Our last stop is the grocery store. I like the grocery store. Similar
potential for conversation topics but there’s no sedimentation of the
past anymore. Just a clean unrelenting present. I don’t ever know what
to buy when I go into a grocery store to get food to immediately eat;
pretty much anything you can buy to eat immediately is unhealthy
inherently. I sometimes buy grapes and eat them straight out of the
bag but you can’t wash them if you do that and eating pesticides
probably isn’t good. I don’t wash them all the time when I buy them
for at home either though. I buy veggie straws. The implication of
health and the lack of harsh flavor makes them the purest grocery
store chip aisle choice, to me. And I want to be less pure anyways,
and eat processed foods with salt, and let my body take those in
alongside my pure things to become strong.

Between all these places I was outside. It was still wet. The roads we drove on between the stores have cracks in them, and some of the roads are newly paved from when I lived here. The city feels older and ashamed of its aging, the new roads hiding the fact that this all can’t be maintained, and that the cracks in the parking lots will keep piling up.

I don’t know how much time we were gone for. Anywhere
between one and three hours. Time is different when you’re out, in a
good way, but it’s hard to be out all the time. Maybe this is too
dramatic to say for a two hour difference in estimate. I’m dropped off
at home, and take the stone steps to the backyard, and the patio to
the sliding door. I go back inside.