Not So Microscopics

On my pita today: One perfectly round, kelly green mold spore. We looked at each other for a while, from different angles, before I decided to peel it off the backside of my flatbread and pretend we'd never met. There was just a little bit more, the stringy retina of the emerald eyeball, anchored to the interior of my wheat pocket. I picked that part off like a piece of lint. Then I spread the bread with a layer of creamy peanut butter and ate it.

My appetite always wins. I am not happy about this. I thought more about the mold after it went down than the quick pleasure of peanut butter. I'm still thinking about the mold now. My coworker who told me to eat it says, “I'm not sure why everyone is so concerned about mold. It's practically the same thing as a mushroom.”

Thing is, mushrooms gross me out more than mold.  Too many striations on the underbelly.  Too many nooks and crannies.  Same thing with alfalfa sprouts and bee hives and cat teeth. Small things all lined up like a silent-but-deadly nest make me queasy. Except for rice. I'm ok with all those long let-loose grains because their lives are fairly predictable: hard-cooked-soft-hard again. Rice doesn't turn into quite as monstrous a version of itself as the neglected loaf of bread or the human body.

I made fried rice for dinner the other night because it's all I had left in my kitchen: a bag of long grain brown, four eggs, a lone red pepper just barely starting to ooze with age, and an onion whose center wanted to push itself out with new, post-ripe growth. It's weird how picked vegetables keep growing.  The hearts of sliced onions protrude to onion-size if you let them in a plastic bag. Sweet potatoes get arms. The zucchini, though, anorexic at its end, shrivels up into a skeletal pickle. Not being a food purist might mean I’m ingesting millions of bacteria, but it also means I’m able to see produce’s whole life cycle through.

I made other small discoveries today: first things first, snow. Heavy wet stuff I pushed off my car like a reluctant dog. Second, the Smiley library is closed on Monday. Third, Tennyson is east of Sheridan, which I knew but had to relearn. I swear streets in north Denver change on me. Fourth, on my way east, I came upon a quaint brick school with a bell and a blue sign swinging that said, “Little Our Lady of the Rosary,” which made me feel like I was in a movie and the words “came upon” came into my head.

Then, I was sitting in a coffeeshop enjoying a dark chocolate bar and a glass of ice water, when I realized I had shards of shaved chocolate sitting all over my sweater. I'm not a sloppy eater, but I’d never noticed when you crack a candy bar into its squares, you’re losing hundreds of shavings as it separates. The larger story: you suffer unseen losses when you pull things apart.

Also, a lesson like what mold taught me: invisibles must be everywhere, but you can see a lot more if you look directly at where things meet—the ridge of sweater on skin, and right in the seams were where I found the semisweet renegades. Eventually I had these tiny melted pools of chocolate on a few buttons and on the corner of my pocket, which I swiped up with my fingertip like whiteboard marker off a whiteboard.

I also discovered a bullet-hole in the window, a perfect prism calling out to my index finger. I discovered I want to put my hands on bulletholes when I see them. Is this to touch danger? Is this to fit nicely half inside, half out? Is this because the sun seems to stay in triangles more than on a regular windowpane? I discovered I don't know if bullet-hole is hyphenated or not. The man working at the coffeeshop who recommended the 65% pure cocoa bar asked me if I wanted to change seats. Because of the bullethole and the melty chocolate in the sun and all, I said no.

Someone told me once that if you took away every material, excluding microscopic organisms, they would outline every single edge, curve, and hair in the world. That means, you'd have a meticulously sketched outline of each human being with details like eyebrows and fingernails lined with mini squirming things.

I was reading this book today called The Thing About Life is that Someday You’ll be Dead, which is about how the body breaks down with age, and I've become more aware of every intersection on my body. I'm watching to see if any of them are melting into the slow motion of change, because I want to watch them if they are.

I discovered that I’m not concerned about mold spores, clothing covered in chocolate, or bullets punctuating glass, I just want to have all five of my senses when I die.