What Came Next

The long wait

I wake up, I pee, then I weigh myself. After that I drink a scoop of protein powder dissolved in room temperature water, and concoct a breakfast goo of oats, almond butter, and blueberries. I sit down on the couch, still in my boxers, prop the bowl of breakfast goo on my thigh, and reach for my laptop.

There’s that moment of uncertainty each morning, before my web browser loads, where the possibility exists that extraterrestrial beings landed on Earth while I slept, and I’m about to learn that the president is holding a joint press conference with our affable, brainy new companions.

Every morning, I’m so ready for aliens.

But in the meantime, I have to keep performing my terrestrial duties.

I go for a stroll in a park that borders the Port of Oakland. To my right, the rolling opaque blue of the Bay; to my left, hundreds of red metal shipping containers stacked ten stories high. Their exteriors are ridged like potato chips, each stamped with names of transport companies that are both unfamiliar and vaguely menacing: Hanjin Group, Maersk, UASC.

Tiny men in orange jumpsuits scurry about the arteries of hundred-foot cranes, compelling their massive arms to grumble over to a box, pluck it from its stack, and place it aboard a waiting freight ship destined to brave the sea-gray expanse to Elsewhere. Who-knows-where, or why, or what’s in the boxes, or how they choose which boxes to pluck.

I’m sure there are rules, in the same way there are rules that govern the interactions between my synapses, or the growth of coral reefs; rules that are incompletely documented in a chunky and rarely-opened tome. The whole of the endeavor is so unknowable, so overwhelmingly vast,  that looking at any piece feels like trying to decipher a language from a single word. I’m more weary than curious. More terrified than inspired. I want to retreat my kingdom of small things that I can grasp, like recipes for pancakes.

It is in this moment I realize: I’m not ready for aliens.

Not today, at least.

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