Stale Bread

The bread at this bread shop is stale.

That’s the only thought that pops endlessly in your mind right now as you slather a thick slice of pre-packaged butter on to what is presumably yesterday’s raised yeast batch. This thought repeats over and over, like the little boy at the table near the window who can’t stop (and won’t stop) asking his disgruntled, young mother if he can go swimming today.

“Please mom!”

Then, another whole minute and a half later, “Are we going swimming today?” “Mom! Are we?”

There’s nothing wrong with old bread, but couldn’t the workers at least attempt to make it taste even the slightest bit edible? Really — this franchise makes its living off of branding the best bread. Was it so hard to get it right?

You and I both know this isn’t really about the bread. There would be something maniacally wrong with you if it was. Unfortunately for you, you won’t admit that you’re fixated on such a miniscule, insignificant thing because you so desperately need to be distracted by everything else you can’t fix in your life. Remember when your mother told you that you should always be prepared for everything? Maybe you took that message to heart a little too much. You were never prepared for the heartaches that came from loving and trusting too hard. too passionately. too deeply. too fast. Now, it appears that Achilles heel is finally starting to catch up with you. Mother always said you should give everyone all the love you can; Father always said you should never give anyone all of you. You’ve tried both. Which has hurt you more?

Today, the sun is bright and warm. Picture perfect California has always been your home. But, for the first time, you long to be elsewhere, far away from here. The many trips to the East have paid off in a way you wish it didn’t. Wanderlust has planted in your heart: wander, and lust. Have you ever marveled at the works of Audrey Kawasaki? The eyes of her subjects are hauntingly captivating in an eerily strange way that makes you feel both immense sadness and throbbing love. Had Kawasaki meant to paint the way you feel today?

None of this makes real sense, but no one ever said it had to. You’re just a messy, tangled pile of rambling thoughts all strung up together. Everyone around you can see it — even the boy who just wants to go swimming. If you chose to speak, what would you say? Would it be that you fear attachment? There are so few things in this world you can confidently say you like or love, but I guess to you it seems like you could own the universe and still never have the things you truly want. It’s as if the heavens mock you to say they’ll give you everything except the few people you desire. You’re like a child playing with fire; you know it will hurt, but you think maybe -just maybe- it won’t burn this time. I know. I know you long to be desired by the things and people you covet today. Instead, you feel like a bygone. Like stale bread from yesterday. The dull sting of realization is a painful one. Let’s not think about it anymore! You won’t be alone forever, stop muttering it under your breath. One day, you’ll find a time when you’re not just a temporary placeholder but someone’s life partner. Right? That’s how these things end up working out, right?

Such a young, hopeless romantic. A budding woman is often a fool. You are no exception. You have your entire life planned out. You’re ambitious and you have never failed at anything you put your mind to — but your heart, that was always one thing you could never control. It was always the least tame thing in you. And that’s why —

You feel heavy, warm tears stream down your flushed cheeks. Immediately, you cover your face with your hand on your forehead to create the illusion you’re hard at work. concentrating. doing something profoundly important. Was it the bread? For God’s sake, it wasn’t the bread — it’s about the ache that accompanies restraint: of keeping your hands laced together in your lap when all you really want is to reach out and be the passionate, loving human being you could be to someone.

Still, the last thing you think in your head before the tears stop is, “The bread is stale.”

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