The Dust Journals – Part VIII

Friday, February 24, 2157

Destitute was one of those words my great-granddad did not believe in. Whenever he heard that a group of people were destitute, the first thing he would ask was, Well, do they have a television? A car? A dishwasher? If they do, then they don’t sound ‘destitute’ to me!

If pushed further, he would say, Well, they probably did it to themselves, then. The folks that used to push carts around, hunting scrap metal to trade for money; the folks that used to hang out in parks talking to themselves while soiling their clothing; the folks that used to hang out on busy corners (when there used to be busy corners), holding their hands out, asking for spare change: they were all losers, in great-granddad’s mind. Losers.

I’m now a loser. I look the part. I smell the part. I feel the part. My mind inhabits the part. It is stuck there, in that mindset. Destitute. So now, I guess, I am a failure.

Or am I? If I lived in an A or B zone, in a nice house with lots of food and water running freely from every tap in the house, wouldn’t I be considered a success? But are such people successes? Through their own form of trickery, deceit, or plain dumb luck, they managed to have when so many, so very, very, very many have none. They’re doing it the easy way. Money always makes it seem so easy.

I have no money. Therefore, I am destitute. But am I a failure? Yes. But I realized long ago that I am a failure, so confirmation of that fact by my current circumstances is actually very reassuring to me. I realized when I was 20 that we’re all fucking failures. Look at us. I mean, look at us!

Great-granddad said that this region supported over 6 million people. I bet barely 600 live around the bay anymore. And we call that success?

Folks had jobs and money. Folks had food and water. Now most don’t. And we call that success?

No, there is no success. We destroyed everything. That some people are still able to use their money to cling to a past existence, the ghost of one, doesn’t make them better. Frankly, it makes them pathetic.

So what am I? A raving lunatic off his meds? A disheveled old fool nearly starved to death? That’s how folks would label me, an effective way to ignore the words I’m pouring out, more regularly that I pour out piss.

Maybe I am dying. And maybe I am having delusions.

I still can’t get over that hippy cult. That will stay with me for life. I still see those horrible children, those poor, poor horrible children, dying, puking themselves to death, poisoned by the filth force fed to them by their psychotic elders.

Those kids and that encampment are the very definition of failure. They are destitute incarnate. They are a fitting symbol of our society, of our world. What counts as civilization in the A and B zones are mere ghosts from the past, echoes of an era clinging on for its own sake. In reality, we are all The Hippies.

So now I’m starving. I had barely eaten anything before I ran into them, and now I haven’t eaten anything since. What little water I’ve had I collected at the drug store nearly a week ago. That I’ve stretched it out this far is a miracle.

I can see the desal plant. It looms in the distance like a scene from Kafka, dark greys and smokestacks. It looks so quiet in the distance. And it looks so near, but then you know, the mountains always look closer than they appear. You try walking towards them, and they forever recede from your reach.

That’s how this plant is treating me, forever receding.

And I keep finding things getting in the way. Inlets, lagoons, and estuaries, all cropping up along the shoreline, impeding my progress. I’m so tired I can’t think anymore. And if I can’t think, then I can’t figure out where I’m going or what I’m doing.

Dear god. Why did I make this journey? Why didn’t I just move to another area. I can’t even imagine getting back home. What the hell was I thinking?

My books. I so miss my books.

© 2014, gar. All rights reserved.


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