I stood waiting in the pharmacy for Lily’s prescription. I didn’t respond to the text soon enough so they had to refill it but said it would only take five minutes. I browsed the aisles, no one else there. A Sunday afternoon, Tracy Chapman playing, “you’ve got a fast car.” Maybe I could be someone, be someone, be someone. The fluorescent wash over everything, imagining if pharmacies would even be here one day. All this empty real estate. Catching myself tapping my foot, bobbing my head, trying to stand up straight.
I called my uncle and learned that he’s started taking the same anti-depressant as Lily. I told him how it really made a difference for her, “changed her life,” I said. He’s going to see about medical marijuana for his back pain too. “I’m retired and live alone in a trailer, who cares if I get stoned all day?” Just make sure you don’t run out of potato chips I said, and we both laughed.
I told him it was this time last year that Lily really started going downhill. I couldn’t remember how much I’d already shared, didn’t know what he knew. There’s an album I started listening to then, and it became the soundtrack for those hard times. I imagined the songs were either written for me or from Lily’s point of view. One, “Living in Another World” seemed to be about feeling isolated and cut off. I couldn’t understand the lyrics so well but that was the emotion. I finally looked up the lyrics but it was more of a break-up song. And that’s the thing about art, you’ll trigger reactions you never expected in people; they’ll see what they want or need to see. Like all manner of thoughts and feelings you get from a painting, by how it’s created. The art is what you can’t explain about why it made you feel the way it did. But it did make you feel.
Lily and I have some time to kill before her movie starts so we go to the Thai restaurant and sit by the window. I need to get out, get some exercise I say. Clear these cobwebs out of my head. The foothills look bleak in the distance, the way the clouds are smudging the ridge line. Not much color to speak of: you’ve got the greens and the grays, a bruised blue.
By the time I get to the end of the poetry collection, the author is talking about what happened after his prognosis when he realizes his days are numbered. It seems like there should be more still judging by the width of the remaining pages but it’s just the appendix, odds and ends thrown in for good measure. I feel like I want to tell Lily about that album but decide to keep it to myself. And we go to Ben & Jerry’s instead, for an ice cream.