Parenting Blog

The Silent Invisible End

There’s something about going 78 miles per hour on the turnpike that pushes America’s turn toward a fascist kleptocracy into focus.

The sky is so lovely with perfect puffs of well-defined white in the shape of bunnies, dragons, and a barn set atop a sea of maternity ward baby blue. Tractor trailers chug along carrying flat screen TVs, office equipment, and non-perishable groceries. I too am hurtling forward, equally as ignorant, at best, of what’s back there behind us and of what I am passing by. We’re all just trying to get there. We’re just trying to finish the drive before it gets dark.

So this is what it looks like then.

It looks exactly like every day life for the vast majority of us. We go to work, we cook or pick up dinner on the way home, we settle down for our favorite shows, we cheer on our teams, we hire the babysitter and head out for our favorite band’s concert in the city; it’s business as usual — just keep on keepin’ on.

This is what it looks like, in case you ever wondered, in case at some point during your 7th grade world history class, as you gazed out the window upon the school’s soccer pitch (you still called it a field back then) and the half empty parking lot beyond it. Maybe it was a Tuesday, maybe you just wanted the fucking bell to ring, maybe you had to pee — that’s when you first thought, “didn’t they see it happening? Did anyone try to stop it?”

You’re asking those same questions again thirty years on.

It’s just that the vice grip is tightened so slowly so as not to bring notice to the increasing pressure. There are tests in miniature along the roadway — do they feel it?, can they tell how much harder it is to breath now…now…now? This is how the air is systemically sucked out of the room. This is how we die.

Have you ever saved for something big over a long period of time? You plunk down dimes and quarters, maybe the occasional buck, into a big jar. Clink, clink. It’s fun and casual, light and easy to do because day to day you never miss all that loose change, the petty cash, but at the end of a month, year, decade you have all that money.

It feels accelerated now yet most of us still can’t see it, not smack dab in our face, not in our backyard, not on our way to the grocery store, not in aisle 6 where we stand slightly askew trying to choose from one of the 17 varieties of triple chocolate brownie cookie dough salted caramel fudge protein bars, not in the school drop off line, not at the library, mall, doctor’s office waiting room, not on a stool at the corner bar or at the communal table inside the hot new Mediterranean restaurant with the shawarma bowls everyone is raving about on the hyper local Facebook group, the one your well-meaning neighbor added you to without asking, not at the movie theater or Home Depot’s garden center either.

Yeah, It’s trending on Twitter and maybe you’ll get 45 seconds of it on TV if the local outlet isn’t on the dole.

It’s everywhere and nowhere all at once.

Generally speaking, late on a Saturday night, early Wednesday morning, during Monday afternoon’s commute, it’s god damn invisible. It’s a nerve agent wafting through the air. We can’t see that shit but it is killing us. It’s gonna kill us all dead soon enough.

From the 3rd row of the minivan comes mocking laughter coalescing with desperate wailing. Someone is hurt, someone else hurting. There’s an option to address it now, to ask questions, nip it in the bud, to make them take a plea deal, to sign a treaty to separate and find some kind of peace for the remainder of the drive but we turn up the music, we roll down the window, we press down on the gas, and we go faster louder forward singing along to the words we memorized years ago.

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