My paycheck came in the mail so I hiked to the bank to make a deposit. It’s street cleaning day so cars only lined the south side of the street, all except one poor sap with a ticket waiting for him tucked under the wiperblade. They changed the name of the bank. There was a rabbit by the ATM that belonged to the homeless guy that sleeps next to the statue of the great man. I don’t know the name of the great man. I know the name of my new bank.
Fairfax Boulevard was humming and June Gloom drowned the city in gray. My headphones conveyed the songs of the Fleet Foxes. I was wearing shorts and a scarf and looked as confused as my clothes. I fed my account with money and considered the myriad ways to spend it. My account likes to eat envelopes with checks inside.
I went and bought a cup of coffee and decided to put off spending money for another day. Except for the coffee, and lunch of course. My frig is a vast, empty catacomb of cooled air, and so I really should go to the grocery store as well.
It’s quite impossible not to spend money. Even when I don’t have money I spend it. The Lakers are in the Finals — there’s no way you’re not going to buy a six-pack to watch the games. You’re out of toothpaste, what are you going to do? At least the premiere party on Friday was free, but the valet wasn’t.
It’s an endless chain of need and want that gets us, no, forces us, from one day to the next.
Don’t get me started on shoes, clothes, beauty supplies, booze, music, rent, etc…
This life is not ours. It’s a binary wonderland. A bar coded universe you navigate by swiping plastic. A mathematical haunted house. The variables are down to the decimals. It’s a bank life. We’re just cardholders.
They’re kicking the vagabonds out of Venice. They’re filling in the swamps. They’re setting fire to the barn to chase out the rats. They’re handing out pink slips to your dreams. They’re cleaning up Brooklyn.
I don’t know whether to jump in or hitch a ride out of town. I don’t know whether to jeer or cheerlead. Maybe I’ll just pass out cups of water at the rat race, and not actually take part. Maybe there is a way to win by not even playing. Maybe that’s true for not just atomic warfare, but the day to day warfare we take part in as well. The scramble and dash. The pull and push. The alarm going off at 8:30am. Walking to the ATM. Getting the mail. Lighting torches and gathering pitchforks.
I got back to my apartment with the last of my coffee and turned on the television. I watched it for a spell and then turned it off. I looked around at my things and concluded that I needed new things. Starting with a new couch. I took a deep breath and wondered what that costs these days. I looked up at the sky and sighed that at least that’s still free.
I didn’t hear the sky reply.