After graduation, after a divorce, after an election
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Be born, grow up, go to college, get a job. Take your dull-but-comfortable middle-class life for granted. Spend entirely too much time at work, chowing down on fast food without tasting it while staring at a computer screen and wondering occasionally if there’s more to life than this. Learn the word ennui. Resolve to do something meaningful with your life.
Do something selfish and stupid instead.
Go to prison.
Lie awake in your bunk at night dwelling on the choices that you’ve made. Resolve to become a better person. Three times a day eat thrown-together slop with the texture of greased sawdust and an empty no-flavor that you imagine is what the dead taste for eternity. Read. Write bleak, angst-ridden poetry and fantasize about literary fame between hour-long conversations about food. Resolve to enjoy your life.
Repeat for 7 ½ years. (Adjust to taste.)
Get out of prison.
Go to a supermarket, a big one — the cheaper, the better. Feel overwhelmed by the sheer number of people bustling blithely about, as if all this choice and freedom were completely normal. Resolve to become normal again, then cringe when someone gets too close. Agonize over every purchase because you don’t know when you’ll get a job and the food stamps have to last all month. Treat yourself anyway. Escape out the door.
Go home. Calm down.
Eat a fresh, ripe strawberry, slowly.