"I don't like films about the end of the world" says Ann. Ann is the office secretary, a sweet-natured woman who practices reiki and prays to angels. We are very different.
I tell her that I like films and books about the end of the world because they remind me that I'm not the only one who thinks about it. "So long as the films aren't jumpy" I say "I hate jumpy ones." The end of days should approach with a slow, dreadful creep.
Ann can't understand why I would think about things like that. But there is comfort to be found in stories where people face unimaginable horror and loss. They are about how people manage. All kinds of unlikely people. Even when sometimes everyone dies at the end.
I don't know how well I'd manage, I tell her. I cannot run far or fast. I'll eat nothing but cereal if I'm left on my own for too long. I am not brave.
Ann doesn't think that I need to think about these things. "Nothing like that will happen to us" she says. I believe her. I don't really think the world will end while I'm in it. I just can't see it happening. I haven't watched Climate Change is Simple even once. Maybe it's because I don't have children. I have a separate bin for recyclables and I bring my empty bottles to the bank on Prussia St., but I don't care that much, really. I like flattening cartons and the satisfying smash of glass. I don't think anything I do makes a difference.
What I think about and try not to wait for is my end of days. Not the day I die, though I think on that too, but the day I am left bereft. The days. How will I cope then? I imagine, in the best of all scenarios, that I will eat a lot of cereal.
Our cat, Butters, strayed. He's home now so this part of the story has a happy ending and you can read on in confidence, but for a full month he was missing. It's been cold and wet and I went to sleep most nights imagining him curling himself into a tight ball and breathing his last and being no more. And it hurt me so much to think about that I could hardly breathe myself. I slept, though, and I got up in the mornings and microwaved porridge and made Andrew get out of bed and eat it in front of the SAD lamp. Because those were the things I could do to make a difference. I suppose that's how some parents feel about recycling.
I listen to Shelly Kagan's Yale course on Death and am reassured on the matter of my own, but I haven't stopped fretting about yours. I worry about being left behind. About not having anything to look forward to. I don't believe in heaven or hell or reincarnation or in any other life but this one. I haven't come to the chapter yet on how to live given the certainty of death. I don't want to skip ahead.
My sister boarded a flight to Glasgow last year where a little boy, about six years old, turned to his mother and roared "WE'RE ALL GAUNNAE DIE, YA STUPIT BITCH!" as everyone on the plane fastened their seatbelts and prepared for takeoff. His mother gave him a packet of crisps and he settled down. He'd said his piece and was content with his lot.
Today's title comes from Joe Chester's beautiful I Always Think You're Leaving Me. We saw him play in the Cobblestone last night. "Trevor Hutchinson really is dreamy" Andrew said. The whole gig was. But I know what he means.