Last Person On Earth

There are days, happening more frequently than I like, when I feel as though I am under house arrest, where a trip to the grocery store feels like my execution has been stayed by the Governor and I’m free. But then, I come home and resume my sentence. I know we don’t have governors, nor do we have capital punishment in Canada, but we’re so strongly influenced by American television that it seems easier to have a Governor stay my execution than a Premier. On other days, it seems likely the second last human being alive on Earth forgot to call me to say she was not feeling well and might be taking her last breath and, if you’re as dim-witted as me these days, that’s just a longer way of saying I might very well qualify as the last person on Earth. I look out the window – no dog walkers these days due to the sheet of ice on the roads, no one occupying the house across from me or next door to me. Was it something I said? This is all reasonable evidence that everyone has gone to Mars. If that’s the case, then there’s not much point in writing any more than … the end.

It’s good to laugh about such things, when we can. I try to distract myself from languishing, which is as you might recall the neglected middle child of mental health (Adam Grant, NY Times). I’ve tried various things – reading, aka playing solitaire on my iPad; cleaning out cupboards, aka moving stuff from one to place to another without accomplishing anything recognizable in terms of organization or tidiness; shovelling instead of using my snowblower because I must be the stupidest person ever, even though I tell myself I’m at the gym while I am shovelling. I sneeze and throw my back out, I go to bed with a neck that functions reasonably well and wake up with no ability to turn my head. My brother says he is one eruption of flatulence away from total paralysis. I don’t think that’s his original joke, but it did make me laugh. You catch the drift. I write every day for many hours, so I’m not completely bereft of ambition, but when I read what I’ve written it sometimes seems I am bereft of any writing skill. A For Effort, I say.

I discovered something the other day while deciding to clean and organize and purge one closet or cupboard each day. It’s a lofty goal I realize but it might pull me back from the brink of insanity. I’ve completed two cupboards and one closet. What I purged wouldn’t have filled a shoe box. That’s not good. To purge takes real courage and, it seems, certainly more courage than I am in possession of. I have a confession – I don’t think I have ever parted with a cardboard box or a jar in my entire life, judging by the inventory that is oozing out of closets. That’s not entirely accurate. When I moved to my very small house from a less small house, I gave several boxes of sealer jars to a friend of mine who is a mad canner. I thought I should be knighted, but it seems I still have a sizeable inventory. What is my reasoning? If the apocalypse happens are boxes and jars gonna save me? I don’t think so. But still, as I get my box-cutter out to break the cardboard down for recycling I hesitate and think – what if this is the absolute perfect box I’ve been searching my whole life for? What if?

Maybe I’ve gone Covid Crackers, to quote the famous wordsmith LA Currie of Williams Avenue. I wonder if there is a support group for such afflictions. And if I make one more batch of cinnamon buns to ward off the blues, I may turn into a cinnamon bun. Maybe it’s too late for me – save yourself.

wendistewart@live.ca

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