"what is the purpose?" my 19-year old son says
"of what?" i ask. we have been talking about him getting a job.
"of everything" he says and his jaw is working back and forth, his black eyes are shining with anger. "sometimes i think the world would be better off without me"
or i would be better off without the world, i think to myself
i sigh heavily, i feel very old and tired
"i don't know" i say. "i feel like that too sometimes"
i look out the window of the ihop restaurant in a strip mall, somewhere in nowheresville, california. cars go by. this world, this life. the way we live, the way we treat each other. there is an elderly black waitress shuttling around plates and people's orders, she seems too old to do the job, but happy to be doing it.
i shake more salt on the french fries and watch the little white particles sift and fall through the cracks. i flip the ketchup bottle open and pour the bright red sauce on the chipped plate next to the fries. i shake a little of the bright orange hot sauce on top. i dip a fry into the spicy-ketchup mixture. repeat. i am not really hungry but it is hard to be with my son when he is expressing his pain. i know it is good for him to let it out, but it's hard to hear. it tugs at my sadness, anger, shame and guilt. this is not any disenfranchised youth, it's mine. the product of my upbringing.
i eat the pain, as if the spongy potatoes will absorb the excess karma, the quivering of my cells in the face of hopelessness. at least i can shit out the fries tomorrow. probably not all of the pain.
after he works himself up, he works himself down and says he feels better. opening the wound we don't have answers for somehow still feels better than holding it all in.
"i like people like that waitress" he says. we both smile. somehow she is a beacon of light, of someone making the best of their circumstances.