Times Like These

We sipped a little this morning. She with her tap water, me with my coffee.

She tells me to ease up on my caffeine intake. Constantly. Says I’m going to become dehydrated. That my health will fail, and that could be dangerous in “times like these.” Like nothing else is dangerous. Like we have a lot of time remaining anyway.

That’s the phrase she always uses: “Times like these.” As though these “times” aren’t real that this is only a facsimile of something more realistic that is happening, or did happen somewhere else. To someone else.

But I sip my coffee and nod and tell her I’ll be fine. I don’t need you looking out for me, I say to her. Making sure the next sip is louder, that she can hear my savoring of the hot beverage.

The morning’s refreshment break seems so far away now as we barrel along the freeway at a slick 150mph. I’m asking her to stop, to pull over so I can use the bathroom. It’s all that coffee, to be honest, and she knows it and I know it but I won’t admit it, not out loud. All I can do is ask that she stop the car. But she’s afraid. I can tell she’s afraid because she’s fidgeting with the heat controls. Constantly. Moving the air vents, toggling the wheel from medium to high heat and back down again.

When she fidgets she’s looking for ways to avoid truth, to avoid confrontation. That seems silly and extreme now, given that the temperature is quite cold and maybes he legitimately seeks a balance and the inevitable collision we’re going to hit soon. But we’ve been together a long time, and she’s usually a chatterbox. When she’s fidgeting, she’s nervous, and she only gets nervous when she’s afraid.

And I know there’s things to be afraid of out there. Uncertainty is the biggest of them. There’s a lot of that going around lately. It’s like a cloud of concern burst above everyone’s heads and the virus spread in a matter of minutes. The air is quiet and still, like everyone collectively takes a breath and then waits before exhaling, and you can sense it all around you and no one wants to breathe. But we don’t have a choice.

No one knows what’s to come of the comets. Three of them, spinning out of control and heading to intersect with earth’s orbit. It’s inevitable they’ll collide with our planet and the experts, or those calling themselves experts, say that most of the planet will face devastation and destruction. We are going to be the last generation of humans, basically. Isn’t that depressing? The last bits of the human race are obsessed with avoiding caffeine, driving fast, and filled with anxiety,

We’re heading north now to our cabin, near Lake Tahoe. It’s a planned trip, and I think it’s going to be our best one yet. Seriously. I’ll sip coffee on the porch, she’ll sip water on the porch. In a rocking chair. She’ll commit to snarky comments about my caffeine intake. I’ll chide her for sticking only with water. And we’ll calmly watch the sun go down each night until the comets come.

Maybe it’ll be a gorgeous view.

Maybe it’ll be hell on earth.


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