At 6:45am I bring the trash bag tied twice and double-bagged to the car, contents including: blueberry coffee grinds, toiled incense, underwear, dead mouse. The bulging rot smells tangy like fruit, but I don't keep fructose around. I saw packages of rambutans at the supermarket and remembered when I had recently split a single alien nugget, a wooden octopus defending its slippery meat inside. The fruit tasted much like a more berry-flavored lychee; the only fruit I had had prior in the past year was a single cherry split the same way.
After three hours driving, one hour on the train, thirty minutes in the subway, ten minutes walking, I arrive at an overcrowded city restaurant, on time. We go next door to a near-identical restaurant that is entirely empty. I eat two warm seafood salads which equate to $24 of grilled calamari and crispy octopi. No fructose. Expensively tanned people nearby seem amused as I swap plates for seconds. I have not eaten in a whole day.
Over fifty blocks north we walk to the élite stores selling goods too good to afford unless delusional to the whims of what a brand can say about how you choose to spend your money, or, perhaps the delusion is that these consumers don't need to choose how the money is spent at all.
I pick up a tiny furry shape that has a zipper two inches long, the volume inside the size of a tennis ball. The price tag lamely announces a dollar amount 1.5 times as much as the monthly cost of my entire home. I have not showered in days, my toothbrush was long ago thrown out, my face is only wearing salicylic acid, and my camo vest is longer than the dress I have thrown over the underwear I found two holes in earlier. My feet are earthy and pungent if I remove my dirty slip-ons but I wonder if I would be able to entertain myself by asking to try on a pair of austere shiny loafers, price tag: 3 months of home.
I fit in here because of who I am with, insiders of the business of buying and selling and de vogue, but I know that the truth is I fit in because I have put on my face that stonily halts questions, my brows arched like flattened torpedo-bra cups, titillating to observe but potentially dangerous to engage. I am graceful and steely with my delicate and bored walk, posing myself in a defiance of anyone questioning, "Who are you?"
I continue to pick up items as we go from floor to floor by elevator, picking up price tags in their banal typefaces and black-and-white facts: This item is equal to one month in your cabin. This item is equal to one year in your cabin. This item is equal to the total time you have already lived in your cabin. We disregard the salesmen who stand like attractive toys that talk and animate with motion sensors, smiles never disappearing, hands behind the back if not offering a spritz, a dab, a diamond to try. I wonder what they make an hour and if their rent is depending on me interacting with their affections as sweet as the onstage chatter of theatre backgrounds.
By the fifth floor I vocalize my anxiety that there are no windows. I am directed to the far wall, where the blinds are half drawn but yes, sunlight is visible. I walk over to see what is outside but can only view the expensive floors of other shops across the streets in each direction, money behind glass, money that is valuable only so long as it remains on the hanger, untouched, virginal, still for sale. The items don't lose their value with the changing seasonal trends, the items lose their value once they become possessions. They are defiled and un-new once sold, they are worthless in terms of their avant-garde appeal once purchased, and nobody will forgive them that error of submission regardless if they forever remain unworn, unused, returned. Luxury is priceless no matter how awful, so long as nobody has chosen to take it. Isn't that the allure of the luxurious, that it is unthinkable to consider as part of your reality?
It will be still many hours to return myself home for a price tag of zero. I will not have time to shower tonight before collapsing into bed, the sheets which I will wash another day. I have a dead mouse and useless underwear waiting in my car, double-bagged and tied twice to be thrown out with the garbage when I take it. I am parched for the seltzer in my car and long to be filled with the immateriality of carbonic acid: corrosive and unnatural to settle.