So I answered the phone and it was my mother wondering if I had enough money this month to pay the rent, which I did, and then the conversation evolved into why I’m still single and why I don’t have a girlfriend or kids and why I haven’t bought a house yet. Even though seconds before, she was asking me if I could afford my rent. How would buying a house be an expectation when I can barely pay my rent? A mother’s perspective is something I’ve never understood. Best intentions without any of the actually reality that holds the rest of us down and keeps us from our dreams. I asked her how she was doing and she said the same things she says every time: the dog is getting better at learning how to be a dog owned by a human, dad is still working nonstop even though there is no way he can keep doing construction for the rest of his life and he’s already almost sixty years old and it’s taken a toll on his body, and how my niece is getting so big and I’m missing the best years of her life, and how I never show up to all of these miniature parties that the rest of the family throws almost spontaneously. These are always the things she talks about and they never change. The dog is always learning how to be a dog, dad is always working, and the niece is always growing as if it were a surprise to everyone that kids grow up. These are the conversations people have with their mothers at around age thirty.
After we were done talking at about noon, or one or whatever it was, I went to the fridge to drink the last beer from the night before. After I spent too long looking for a beer I had already drank, I decided it would be a good time to put on pants. Then I realized that I had answered the door and accepted my book, and the mailman sent the signal to space, and I had closed the door only to reopen it to thank him awkwardly, all sans pants. It was one of those mornings. Pants could wait. Luckily I still had two or three cigarettes left in my pack of cheap smokes that are bought only by people who spent the previous thirty minutes or so scrambling for quarters. So I went outside and smoked two of them, knowing I would have to buy another pack in about fifteen minutes. Mornings are the worst. Not the worst, but they can be pretty awful if you had a rough night the night before.
I checked my phone after talking to my mom to make sure that I hadn’t texted or called anyone that would create the morning shame spiral that also follows a night of heavy drinking. This was around the time my phone died, if I remember correctly. My phone was dead and this gave me a new kind of paranoia. Who did I talk to last night? I’d have to wait at least five minutes for my phone to charge enough of its battery for me to find out. I went to my desktop and logged into all the normal things that could create the same amount of shame. Nothing there. When my phone finally charged, I realized that I hadn’t talked to anyone in nearly a week, except my mom, and that created something entirely different from shame. I was just sad to realize that I hadn’t talked to anyone through my phone in almost a week. With texting and social networking and everything else that comes with owning a cellphone now, I should have a few screens of recent contacts. But I didn’t.
I went back to the book I finished but couldn’t remember reading any of it from the night before. I know that I loved reading it and it was one of the best books I’ve ever read, but I couldn’t remember a damn thing about it. It was a mystery to me. I could read it all over again if I wanted. I bet I’d remember some of it. So I looked it up online and read a synopsis and remembered everything I read from the night before. It was about a girl who left everything to go and find everything only to realize that everything and nothing were essentially the same thing. I didn’t get the significance at the time, but I thought it was a cool way to word it. When you have everything, you want nothing. That’s the same, right? Because when you have nothing, you kind of want everything. Or at least anything. So maybe I could rephrase that a little better. Everything, anything, and nothing are all basically the same thing.