Ramble 7
Thursday, July 30, 1998

"I'll give it to you for a quarter," he said. The young man behind the counter looked like he stepped out of a 3-2-1-Contact episode from the early '80s. His chunky glasses had thick black frames. I followed his pointing finger to the bread roll in the basket on the counter. It was a strange flat shape, as if it had been dropped onto the cooking sheet from a high surface when it was still just a ball of dough.

I saw a flash of my mornings in italia, when I'd walk through the backalleys of Parma, passing by the shops that had shelves of steaming loaves pressed up against the windows.

Bread and sugar are the same to my system, both provoking crazy cravings of more. Comfort. Eat without thinking or feeling. Numbness.

I gave the guy twenty-five cents and then dropped another quarter in the "Good Karma" tips basket next to the cash register, snagging my little roll on my way out. The sun had finally gone behind the horizon, leaving the kind of light that makes everything have a tint of steely blue, making you have to look twice at some things to see if they're really there.

Walking down Third Street towards home, I felt empty. What was the meaning of all this, again? After riding the crest of a wave for a while, I was finally sliding back into the depths of the bottom current, that recurring point of limited view. Frustrated by my inability to maintain a stable connection to the Force, my body and brain immediately reached out to grab onto illusionary sources of familiarity in this topical manifestation of reality. But those grasping actions are always vacant of any lasting meaning. They only leave me hungry for more, and I pull myself into a pattern of insatiable desires. My awareness is always flickering on and off, sometimes so quickly that I don't even know what's real; if I know why I'm actually turning to a lifestyle of surfeit, then why do I continue to do it anyway? While another stream of consciousness (the same one that ties a blindfold over my eyes whenever possible) asks, Why ask why? Listening to that voice, I can then take a bite of my roll and feel numb for the couple seconds that it takes to chew, taste, savor, swallow.

I squished my fingers down into the center of the soft roll, pulling up pieces of doughy crustless bites, eating them as I walked home with a still mind. Soon this roll in my hand turned into a pocket of thick crust with a hole in the top. I wanted my whole body to shrink until I was small enough to crawl into the little womb I created; I would curl up into the fetal position, close my eyes, and take deep breaths of the yeasty warm air until I fell asleep.

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