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I miss the smell of grass cut from your own yard, way in the back where the neighbors can only just hear the sound of the push mower, a little buzzing noise from a motor unseen. Cut the grass around the apple tree, newly flowering, around the old car, left slowly rotting.

I have been eating too many cherries this season. They are deep purple-red, sweet, tart, juicy. One tastes like soap. One tastes like the sour apples I bit into too early in the summer – tart, bitter, sour, green. Not ready yet.

No longer mine – the grass or the apple trees or the push mower, or the land that held all of it.

The grass still grows there – and is cut. The apples grow, ripen, fall, rot on the ground in the shade, or are nibbled on by deer, raccoon, fox, squirrel, rabbit.

The stream will trickle by, as it did before I arrived, and long after I am gone and gone forever.

The sun beats down brightly here, but it is empty warmth – a smile without friendliness. Much is missing. The blue sky smiles sadly at me, the clouds offer their best wishes for future summers full of smells.

 

He screams, roars, yells in the other room. He is a beast – we are all animals but we have lost our first voices. We cook with wooden spoons, move with metal cars, walk with rubber soles – we made nothing of it. I make nothing, sitting here in different countries on the Earth. It is not special, we will all end up back where we came from. This room is a breath of air. This day is 24 hours of trillions. We are nothing and I have yet to be anything at all.

His beer bottles rattle in a bag like bones picked apart and broken for marrow. He sips everything down – he’ll get you, too. Beer bones, protein teeth – her wilted hair needs watering.

Magic boy’s in town. There is a gold glowing path where they have walked. The sea parted and he and his friends went in. Not you, crazy man in the back of the dark apartment. Stay still. Be still and not seen. Fill your beer bottles later with the leftover water from their party in the river. Drink it down, get wasted on wastage, age faster and with a growing loneliness that no bottle can fill.

The journey was for nothing. They haven’t learned anything, Mr. Churchill. They will all kill each other again, clean it up, grow peace gardens, pick the fruit, eat it down to the roots, forget why they were hungry, get mad, find the old war. We shouldn’t be here. He shouldn’t be here with his beer, drinking the same bottle down again, filling it up, losing hair and teeth and collagen, wrinkling down to the bone, fading away, filling up the Earth with broken bottles and coffins.

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1. How many times is too many times? How much is too much? How vague is too vague?

2. You know your life’s exciting when you find yourself researching how to keep your houseplants watered so they don’t die when you leave them for an extended period of time. My babies!

3. Maybe you’re not bored but boring.

4. So, the World Cup is pretty cool, eh? #American

5. I wonder if I’m annoying my apartment neighbor by playing Sondre Lerche’s Bad Law over and over and over…. oh well.

6. I get it, you have opinions. About everything. And you’re very outspoken. And you hate that other people have opinions. Because they’re always wrong. Or offensive. Or politically incorrect. Maybe you should just get off the internet, because sharing all of these articles and making virtual support groups for offended people is not going to solve anything. Or maybe you’re just bored otherwise?

7. He has brown eyes. Of course he does.

8. People on Instagram totally take some of those photos with like real cameras, right? It’s ok, you can tell me!

9. If you can go outside and look up and see blue sky, and if you can go to the grocery store and buy strawberries at any month of the year, you’re fortunate. Please feel fortunate, for me. The gray-sky, berry-less lady. Thanks.

10. Wake up in the middle of the night and smile to yourself and go back to sleep.

There is a man. He is walking toward me on a long dark path. He could be young or old. It might be a woman. We will pass each other and we will not speak. And the path will still be long and dark.

Let’s go to the rose garden and not take a single picture. We’ll weave past the smart-phone-slingers and we’ll run, colors blurring until there are no colors; until there is every color. The roses — don’t touch them, just smell them, and try to remember the exact shade of pink that no camera could capture anyway.

Death might surely be coming for us soon. And we’ll lie in our beds surrounded by all of the plastic containers we’ve emptied in our lifetimes. Our vision will blur at the edges like it did we when were running past the roses in the garden; we’ll see every color — we’ve seen every color, while we’ve been running — and then we will see nothing.

On the long walk home from the garden, we’ll walk into the city center, and through. The lights will glare down on us, from every angle and corner, every color that neon comes in. The lights they flicker, and drop, and loop, and blink. The signs they politely and shyly and cunningly ask you for every penny you have — every 99 cents. And we will give them most of everything we have, we will leave it all here: some of it drops from us as we run, some we left quietly with that man we never spoke to on the dark park path, some leaves from our eyes as we smile at little dogs and little children and at strangers’ backs as they hold hands with other strangers that they love.

In August, one sign reads, the roses will droop and their petals will fall to the ground. The pinks and reds and purples and yellows will all fade to brown, the same color, the same shade. They will be swept up — this is a tidy city, after all — and dumped into a clear plastic garbage bag and left at the same street corner as the convenience store you bought a candy bar from two weeks ago. Brown and brown and brown, buried unnaturally in the earth. Us, too.

Two dogs are sniffing at each other on the walking path. One is white, a tiny fluffy creature, the other black, with short hair, also small. Their owners smile politely at each other, earbuds in, tugging on their leashes. They do not want to say hello, unlike their dogs, even though they are the ones that are able, and they would very much appreciate if their furry companions would ignore every other living creature around them, as they do. And eventually, I’m sure, the two small dogs were pulled away, but I did not stay to watch it, and you do not, either. We walk away. We do not smile when they can see us. We do not speak.

It is hot, tonight. It will be hot all week. The sun will shine down on us and on the pink roses in the rose garden in the park. The bright light will burn the corners of the flower petals; bleach them, turn them a shade lighter than before. No one will take pictures of the roses by the end of July; they will no longer be beautiful enough for Instagram; no amount of photo editing could bring back that shade of pink; there will be no more selfies.

When we reach our home, we will jog up the flights of stairs to our apartments. We will close the door behind us and enter a dark space. Lying on our beds in silence, we will close our eyes, think of the pink we’ve seen, of all the pink we’ve seen, of all the colors. We will think of the old man on the walking path, the one who we never really saw. We will think of the tiny dogs that wanted to be friends. We will think of all the people who do not see the roses, only take pictures of them. We will try to picture the exact shade of pink on those pink roses in the rose garden in the park. We won’t be able to, and the color won’t be the same tomorrow, when we go back. The sun will have been shining down, the color lost, the day over, gone, wasted.  What a waste of a rose garden, you are. We are, us happy snap-backed photo snappers. We tiny dog owners. We tiny home owners. Tiny life livers.

Tomorrow night we will all go back to the park. We will walk quietly along the cement paths. We will weave around those who walk slower than us; let faster walkers pass. We will march in a small, green and flowery parade, fancy tennis shoes squeaking under bright lights. The roses in the rose garden in the park will be there, too. And the small dogs. And the strangers who will stay strangers. And we will march and then march home. And we will close our eyes and everything will go dark.

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1. Musical festivals are not your friend.

2. “I accidentally read a wiki page on it today.”

3. Oh, god, is it Summer already?! I forgot what hot, humid weather felt like! WHY did we want this?!

4. “If not now, when? If not now, never.” was something I told myself/fought with myself about last week. I was so so so scared to do something, something simple, even though I really wanted to! So then I did it. And it was great! SO JUST DO IT, OK, SHEESH. Whatever it is. Do it. You’ll be afraid but you’ll also be ok.

5. I’m beginning to like K-Pop. …SOMEONE SAVE ME FROM KOREA!

6. He was beautiful but not kind. So, technically, not beautiful.

7. I’m getting very tired of having to tell you to GET THE FUCK OUT. Leave. GO. Do something! Go somewhere! Be someone you want to be! People like you fade from my heart. Please don’t.

8. Write a letter to yourself in the future. Say anything. Tell them what you want to be doing in a year. Tell your future self what you had for breakfast today. Anything. Put it in an envelope. Wait six months or more to read it.

9. It’s not gonna be easy but it will be okay. HASHTAGlife.

10. Wanna write something for heyinfinity.com?! Of COURSE you do! And we want to hear from you! Send an email with your idea to: heyinfinityjenni@gmail.com

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Someone take a photo of that window and send it to me. Be sure to get the frame in frame, the one I swiped my hand over and picked the peeling paint from. That’s the most important part. Of course, I can still see it in my mind, the shaded glass I poked my head around in an attempt to see the sky, to see only roof instead. Was it raining? Did it snow? I don’t know, I couldn’t see.

“Chad”, I say, apropos of nothing, informing my mother of a country in Africa, standing in the middle of her kitchen under a skylight. “Is that the name of my future son-in-law?” She asks. No. Probably not. I can see the blue of the sky from there; perhaps the same color as his eyes. Probably not. I’m sure they are brown. They always are.

The pictures they put on the cover of magazines and in travel guides are so ultra-contrasted and over-colored. I’ve never understood why that’s necessary. I’ve seen some of those places with my own eyes, and the blues aren’t that color, the cobblestones not so gray. Those pictures look like nostalgia feels. Is that the point? Only $6.99, and less if you sign up for a whole year – that’s 12 issues, and 50% off the cover price.

Once I met a boy named Chad in Las Vegas. He was a waiter with a complicated story. I recently deleted his number from my phone. I don’t think he had blue eyes. They never do.

The most beautiful things can’t be photographed; can barely be seen at all. The silence of all of us sitting there, next to the lake, sitting silently together in a ring of padded patio furniture. Later, all of us, none of us with blue eyes, but all of us beautiful, a woozy slumber party of supposed-to-be-adults. The late summer sun rising the next morning, us rising, rushing, back to somewhere. All of it beautiful, and it still is.

Winter, a few seasons later, almost Spring, and the skylight in my mother’s kitchen is dripping, dripping, dropping once-snow water onto the floor. I pull a pan from a cupboard, and it’s grey and scratched, a bit rusty on the bottom. I set it on the floor, also grey and scratched, a bit wet. There are pinging sounds as the drops hit the empty metal container, a rhythm of indoor rain. I look up, and the sky is a kind of blue-grey, a darkening, changing color as the sun slowly sets.

I remember Chad talking about his step-father, and saying that he’d moved out of his mother’s house and left to find a job in Las Vegas. He ended up as a waiter at a steakhouse. I don’t think that was his dream career move, but it had happened, and it paid his bills, for the most part. If he put on his waiter-face properly and acted like he cared enough, he got pretty good tips. It was Las Vegas, after all. People went there to drink and lose a pre-determined amount of money that usually slightly increased once they’d lost it faster than they had expected and still had three days left of vacation. They knew the price of steak was slightly higher there, so a slightly higher tip was also in order. Sometimes it was even included in the cost of their all-inclusive vacation package.

The pictures of the Las Vegas strip in travel guides are surprisingly accurate. The neon lights, the casinos that are also hotels, the hotels that are also casinos. That’s the face of it, the story, the main plot line.  It’s an easier story to tell than most places: an over-colored, over-built, long strip of road. It has an easy cover photo, unlike “Winter” or “last Summer” or “Spring in my mother’s kitchen”. It is a place, a snapshot, a photograph that exists and is easily defined, not like Chad from Africa or Chad from the steakhouse.

The sound the water droplets made changed as the pan filled, from a steely ringing to an almost-noiseless splash. The rhythm changed, too, slowing, like the roof was running out of water. When it finally stopped, I emptied the pan in the sink, watching the grayish water swirl down the drain, leaving tiny white bits of plaster or drywall behind. The skylights were dark now, almost black, and I could see myself in the reflection, looking up and back down at the same time.

A few days ago I woke up and somehow almost immediately decided that a good way to become a more active Instagram-er would be to take one picture every hour — sort of a documentary of a day in my life, in pictures. It went well… for a few hours, anyway.

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“8am #adayinpics”

A hotter-than-normal Michigan summer morning, therefore, fan on full speed.

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“9am #adayinpics”

Eggs for breakfast with the morning email scan-through.

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“10am #adayinpics”

Tiny potted plant gardening.

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“11am #adayinpics”

Running work errands, sweating profusely, examining the beautiful city I live in.

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“12pm #adayinpics”

Heading back home, stopping to admire the potential of a once-abandoned building that’s already being realized.

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“1pm #adayinpics #resume”

Working on my resume, attempting to create an image of myself on paper that shows my own potential.

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“4pm #adayinpics #walden”

A resume rest and Walden in the living room.

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“6pm #adayinpics #naptime #hidinginsidethehorribleweather”

Finally retreating back to the relative comfort of my bedroom and box fan.

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