from the collection of: m. gantee
We’re working on new developments in the toilet paper industry. We’ve gone as big as we can – we’ve decided that whatever we make has to be able to fit in the toilet paper roll holders that have been installed in houses dating back a hundred years. So the diameter can’t get much bigger. But we’re making rolls narrower – customers don’t need the entire width. And we’re putting more sheets on a roll – basically making each sheet shorter. But we don’t have to say that on the package. All the customer knows is that “Fluffies now come with 15000 sheets per roll!”
Big strides. New developments.
I walk down the aisle and I look at other developments in other industries. Rubic’s Cube now comes with fluorescent colors. Stuffed animals now have entire sides covered in sequins.
I thumb a price tag.
Why does Dollar General put their name on each price tag?
Why is this price tag spaced exactly 3.21492873… inches from the one next to it? Why are these fluorescent lights emitting the lumens that they are?
Why is the tile under my right foot cracked?
Why can’t I think anymore?
Why do I think too much?
I bend down and run a finger along the crack. The crack was meant to be. From the beginning of time, when galaxies hurtled outward from some undefined heart, that crack in this tile was meant to be.
And when this building comes down, when it is bulldozed into a pile and then trucked to a landfill, that crack will become what it was meant to be at that moment, too. Always meant to be.
I run that same finger over the lines in my other palm. I touch my lips. I close my eyes. Meant to be.
Don’t go. Don’t go. I need to tell you something more.
Getting dressed this morning, I pulled on my favorite t-shirt. Worn thin as breath against a January freeze, it’s almost done. There’s already a hole along the seam at the waist.
I pull it on. The fabric knows my skin. Soft as my aging skin, it communes with it.
It is almost done. Thin as breath in a January wind, it is almost lost.
I pull a sweatshirt over the top and a sweater over that – it’s January outside and cold. I can feel the t-shirt though, against my underarms, my belly: soft.
It was made somewhere in Indonesia or Bangladesh. It’s got a label along the neck – a well-known designer with executives in L.A. and sweatshops in southern Asia. Hands from far away touched this fabric, cut this fabric, patterned this fabric, sewed and packaged this fabric. Those hands are now forgotten by everyone and everything except for this fabric. This fabric lingers still as a memorial.
And soon, this fabric will not hold up against the rise and fall of my chest and shoulders. It will give way completely and so I’ll have to throw it into the plastic bag of my kitchen garbage. From there, into the can at the side of the road. From there, into the belly of a grumbling truck. From there, to the bird-filled silence of a landfill. From there, into a lingering tomb – one of millions that pock the surface of this earth.
Forgotten but not forgetting.
It will linger.
And even when it doesn’t, it will linger.