At 11 a.m. on New Year’s Day I opened my eyes. My eyes had been closed because the sun was up and the room was bright. I had not slept the night before. I had been lying on the couch at my grandmother’s condo. I was alone. She doesn’t live there anymore.
I stood up. I made a pot of tea. I filled the bathtub with hot water. I sank into the water until I could only use my nose to breathe. My laptop was resting on the closed toilet seat nearby. ‘Return of the Jedi’ was playing. I watched the whole movie from the bath. The water got tepid. I got out.
At sundown I got in my grandmother’s car and drove through the countryside. I was listening to Big Star. I drove all over the place. I drove past all the houses I’d ever lived in in Virginia.
Outside it was very cold. I parked on a gravel road near my childhood home. I thought about walking through the empty cornfields. When I got out of the car I realized it was too cold. I wasn’t wearing my thermals. I got back in the car. I drove down dark silent streets surrounded by dark silent trees. I wondered where everyone had gone off to.
I stopped at a grocery store and bought a loaf of bread, two bottles of cheap champagne, and a jug of orange juice. The orange juice had pulp in it because I think it’s creepy not to drink pulp. When I got to the register I placed everything on the conveyor belt. I said to the cashier, “This is what I have become.” I told her I was going to make mimosas and sit by a fire. She laughed and said that sounded perfectly nice to her.
I drove back to my grandmother’s condo. Dante was asleep on a chair near the fireplace. I opened the flue. I crumpled some paper and placed it beneath a log. I lit the paper on fire. The paper burned. The fireplace was illuminated. I went into the kitchen and mixed orange juice with champagne. I sat down by the fire and got drunk. I read a book. I tried to sleep. I couldn’t sleep. I thought about someone far away.