November 21, 2018

Are You There, Ashton Kutcher? It’s Me, Hannah

There is no denying the current state of our planet. Buds surface on trees with snow covered bases. Planes criss cross their chemical cobweb, weaving white across the blue, trying to capture the light of the sun. Plastic covered whale guts wash ashore in Far Rockaway, as a kid sucks on their red dye 40 dusted hands, trying to swallow any traces on his fingertips. A Cheetos bag blows in the grey breeze of passing car.

Where does one go from here? Where is the fallout shelter? The big shiny spaceship headed to planet x, y, or z? Where is Ashton Kutcher hiding behind a door in his 90’s trucker hat, readying his MTV mantra?

Left to my own devices, I try to turn on my instincts, buried somewhere beneath war time video games and space heaters. Where is the power button for these things? I know it must be here somewhere, that blue-voiced inner guide:

“Turn left in 500 feet”

“Turn left in 500 feet”

“Turn left in 500 feet”

“Turn left in 500 feet”

“You have arrived.”

Oh, take me back to where I started from. Way, way, way, back. Back to the beginning before the beginning when we were just beginning. Where is the GPS to guide me back to my own? I want to be like the mother elephant: leading her family across the desert, miles and miles, in times of severe drought, finding that one remaining watering hole.

I search for clues that might tell me what to do as the clock never stops ticking closer to midnight and I remember.

I remember getting into a car crash with my mother on the way home from hockey practice when I was twelve. I remember seeing the car on the wrong side of the road and my mother’s hands leaving the wheel. I remember her sitting on the side of the road, elbows upon knees, under a palo verde tree, with green bark and tiny slivers of leaves. She told me that the tree had evolved to have green bark and grow such small leaves to better adapt to the desert. I remember wanting to turn green too under the weight of the desert sun. I remember asking her why she didn’t try to swerve out of the way and I remember her telling me that when you’re looking at a car crash head on, the impending impact unavoidable, your chances of getting into an even more severe wreck are lessened when you:

take your foot off the gas,
and let go of the wheel.

Hannah Arin is a junior at Pitzer College pursuing a double major in religious studies and philosophy