Naiar Islam ∙ 05/27/2021 ∙ May 2021
Nothing lasts forever. I’m learning that the hard way. I’ve poured so much out just to learn it was all for nothing. There’s no milk for the bowl of cereal I already made. Nothing lasts forever. Not even milk. I know what I must do now. I have to go to the grocery store. Warmth doesn’t exist in the grocery store. The cold, cold air hits my face as I walk in. The harsh fluorescent lights illuminate my harsher reality: no more milk. So I walk to the milk aisle. I walk, and I walk, and I walk. Since when was this grocery store so big? Since when was I so small? It took an eternity but I finally made it. It’s even colder here. I shiver as I pick up a gallon of milk. Wow, this was heavier than I thought it would be. It’s dragging me down. I almost crumble under the weight. But I persevere because there’s nothing worse than having no milk. My mother always used to say, “sometimes the milk will be heavy, but you just have to carry it anyway.” Mom, you were right. I’m so sorry. I have to get in line now. I must walk again. Walk, walk, walk, do we ever stop walking? I had to walk to the milk aisle and now I have to walk back. Life is just full of cycles, isn’t it? We wake up, we go to sleep. We live, we die. We run out of milk and buy more just for it, only to run out again. What a funny little thing we humans do, life. But I’m getting sidetracked. I have no milk. All that matters is getting milk. The line is so long I can barely see the cashier from the end of it. After five minutes I think about how this could be hell, or purgatory at least. Maybe I’m dead and I’m doomed to wait in this line for eternity. But eventually I made it to the front of the line. My mother had a phrase for that, too: “The line may be long, and you might think you’re in hell, or purgatory at least, but eventually you’ll get to the cashier.” Thanks, mom, for the oddly specific advice.
The cashier seemed kind. I think she liked me. She was a beacon of real light, and not the fluorescent grocery store kind. She was the only warmth in this store. I’ve only looked into her eyes once, but I feel as if I’ve known her my whole life. I wouldn’t say it was love at first sight, but I knew I could love her if I tried. My mother had a phrase for this as well. “Sometimes running out of milk and going to the grocery store means almost falling in love with the cashier.” How did she know? But I had no time to talk to the cashier. My cereal was still waiting to be milked.
At long last I have the milk. I’ve finally achieved what I’ve been working towards for the past twenty minutes or so of my life. It was a long journey, and I need to talk to my mom about some things, but at least I got the milk. I should be happy. And yet- Never mind that. I poured some milk into my cereal. But, about to eat it, I begin to doubt myself. What if the journey wasn’t worth it? What if this milk isn’t as good as I hoped it would be? Have I put milk on a pedestal? How much of me is me, and how much of me is milk? How did my mom predict everything? Is she a milky witch? On second thought, I don’t really like milk that much. My cereal is probably stale by now anyways. I need to get my priorities straight. I want to talk to that cashier. I want to live a life. And so I go to the grocery store once more, but this time there’s no milk on my mind.