“You ever feel like you’ve wasted your life?” That’s what I said to my best friend on the phone as I walked to my car. I had just gotten out of a Best Buy and I was looking for one of those stupid iPhone dongles because Apple’s unquenchable need for perpetual growth made them get rid of the auxiliary port and forced this overpriced proprietary USB variant down the consumer’s throat. I wanted to listen to DaBaby in my car with the curse words uncensored, so there I was, in Best Buy, doing exactly what Apple wanted me to do, consuming.
“Um. It depends on the day. Have you taken your sad bitch pills today, Abe” I hadn’t, but that wasn’t the point. I was disturbed by something in Best Buy. Actually, more accurately, I was disturbed by Best Buy’s lack of something. CDs. The CD section was completely gone. There was not a single compact disc for sale in the entire store. The iPhone dongle was sold out. I decided I’d buy it from Amazon. I fucking hated Amazon, but I hated walking into stores and asking employees with dead eyes where iPhone dongles were even more. Either way, I was supporting capitalism. Cancer is cancer, the aggressiveness of the cancer doesn’t change the fact that the body will eventually die. Best Buy was a less profitable business than Amazon. Cancer is cancer.
I used to take the bus to Best Buy from my apartment in Downtown Martinez to buy CDs. Some days I’d take the County Connection bus to Pleasant Hill. Other days I’d take the WestCat to Pinole. It made the journey less mundane. The bus ride to Pleasant Hill was 10 minutes less than the bus ride to Pinole, but I found the Pinole ride to be more enjoyable. I liked the rolling hills of Cummings Skyway and the bay views that accompanied them. It was one of things in my turbulent childhood that I looked fondly upon. And just like that, without a single bit of consideration for how I might feel, they were gone. Brick and mortar stores decided CDs were no more. Spotify, Apple, Amazon and the internet replaced them. I thought about how quickly our lives flashed before our eyes. How the things we loved, that filled our days with joy, became antiquated. And antiquity is only celebrated when coupled with profitability. I wanted to buy a CD, play it in my car. I’d probably never listen to it afterwards, but I just wanted to hold one. I wanted to read the liner notes; look at the photos in the booklet. There was something cathartic about that. It felt like you were truly getting to know the artist. A good CD booklet could remove the levels of separation between you and the people who created the music you loved.
I wasn’t a child anymore. Life was taking its toll on me. My dreams, the ones about becoming a celebrated writer, someone of literary merit felt further away than usual in that moment. Vanishing youth has a way of reminding you of your failures. Society moves on, whether you sink or swim, it moves on and you have to swallow it, and it, whatever it is, always tasted like piss to me. Life was about how long you could smile with someone else’s piss filling your mouth. You had to smile, you had to fake appreciation or you would eventually be cut off and die of thirst.
I was nearing 30 and I had no idea of whether or not the thing that I was working toward would bear fruit. Was I wasting my life? I hadn’t the faintest clue, but one thing was for sure: Best Buy wasn’t selling CDs anymore. And nobody gave a fuck.
I got in my car, told my friend I had to go, turned on the radio and pretended to enjoy it.
One more gulp of piss wouldn’t kill me.