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I was sitting in a Wal-Mart

By [REDACTED], January 22, 2017

I was at a Wal-Mart for five hours. I did not just sit there in one spot and I was not alone, but my mental image of the whole experience is very singular and lonely. The immediate circumstance leading up to this situation were just as depressive as the more permanent shell that contains this story.

For Christmas both my parents and my maternal grandmother along with her brother presented to me gift cards for Target. A couple weeks later my mother had plans to hang out with me and my sister and go to Target to do some light shopping. You know, groceries in part but also clothes as I would normally never buy new clothes and this is the exact circumstance that would push me to do so. Of course, it was winter break and my mother lives a fairly monotonous life, so at some point before the original planned time I just asked what she was doing and she responded that she was just going to do some housework. I wasn’t planning anything that day so I asked if we could hang out.

Previously, I had stopped just randomly hanging out with my family because I had therapy appointments weekly, so there was a convenient time to always head up to the city in which they lived. I turned 19 and the state kicked me off my parents plan so I had to find a new plan and due to some misguidance it took quite a while. I still don’t really know what the fuck is going on with my insurance. Regardless, my life was pretty boring at the time so I figured why not. Though, my mother tends to pick people up in the mornings as it allows her a solid block of time between then and when my father would arrive home from work to get things done. Because I have little control in my life, I didn’t sleep at all the night before this.

I was tired as fuck. My mother came to pick me up in the morning along with my sister. They stopped at Kwik Trip and took a good ten minutes as I sat in the slowly cooling car in the parking lot. I was tired to that point where your body starts ticking, trying to annoy you into finding a place to just sleep, yet I was sitting bored in a car. They eventually came back out, but I was annoyed as hell at that point. Now that I think about it, I cannot really recall whether or not my sister was even there.

Shortly after reaching my parents’ house, my mother received a call from my aunt (the sister of my father). She could not contact my father, having tried multiple times to call him. My maternal grandmother had fallen and was on her way to the hospital. Nobody knew why. My grandfather did not go with her to the hospital, perhaps he thought nothing of it or perhaps he was numb to it. This bothered my mother quite a bit, and led to a long period of time in which she attempted to contact my father through a multitude of phone numbers.

I think it was his Google number that I called. I think my mother just alternated between his home and work numbers, but I have so many random numbers for people in my phone, I figured I would help. I didn’t get through but it did leave a message. Apparently he had many problems with his phone that day, but when he saw the message he texted me. “I saw you tried to call me, was it anything important” or something along those lines. “Ye, you should call mom,” I think I said. I elaborated later, mostly just to make sure he noticed the texts. Eventually he got through to my mother. I didn’t tell her that I got through to him at the time, I didn’t want to get any false hopes flying around. After all, nobody really knew what was going on at all.

She had a stroke. There ended up being a lot of my parents going back and forth between their place and the hospital. This was something like a 3-hour drive. My sister was moving to Colorado. At least she got to see my grandma then, even in as bad as her condition was after the stroke.

I eventually got to go to Target with my mother. I got a lot of notification on my phone on the way there, but I figured I would read them later. My phone gives me a lot of trouble with loading emails and stuff so I thought ‘whatever.’ On the clearance rack in the clothes section, there were the sweater. A tan color, very comfortable, a cozy aesthetic that reminded me of a Japanese track making duo I had recently followed. I thought it was adorable and regretted not having it as part of my style at a time in my life when there was a girl with whom I could create a consistent aesthetic centered around it. I also needed new black jeans as the ones I normally wear were beginning to tear.

When we were waiting in line to checkout and as the cashier began ringing up my two whole items, I managed to get the oddly sketchy Target Wi-Fi to work and check me emails. One that really stuck out had ‘IMPORTANT’ in the title, which often means the school thinks I care about some shit that would really work itself out without me. Actually, as it turns out, it was notifying me that I was on academic suspension for the spring semester.

I could have appealed. I’m not sure I’m correct about the chronology of all of this. I didn’t though. My mother has said before that she was worried about my situation, probably because I continually stressed how unhappy I was about being in a shitty school surrounded by borderline Nazis in the middle of nowhere and studying a major purely because the one I really wanted was fucking terrible at said school. I didn’t tell her because I knew it would only be more reason to stress on her part. Later she would try to guilt me by saying that she was more worried when she didn’t know what was going on with me but her mother’s intuition told her something was in fact going on.

My sister moved on the ninth, I think. I believe it was the seventh that the previous part happened. I could appeal before ten days prior to the start of the semester, as in until the thirteenth. Again, I just didn’t do anything because not giving a fuck about school isn’t a ‘well I guess I’ll go back anyway’ sort of thing.

We were going to have a surprise-ish party for my father’s 50th birthday. On the thirteenth. My mother picked my brother and I up the night before, as per my brother’s suggestion. I was up early on the thirteenth, able to go with my mother to pick up my maternal grandmother for the party, as well as to pick up some ingredients. When we got back to my parents’ house, my mother received another great phone call, as my paternal grandmother had had another stroke. My dad needed a coworker to drive him home, leaving his car at work. It’s still there. It’s a green Saturn Ion.

My dad wanted my brothers and I to go to see my grandma, my mom said she would understand if we didn’t, my brother had an appointment he had moved from the thirteenth to the sixteenth. We stayed at my parents’ house for four days. They didn’t sleep much, may parents. When they got back they drove us home, slept, then went back to my grandma.

I haven’t seen my grandmother alive since October. She passed sometime early in the week. My mom called to tell me that. Then prodded with just the right questions to force me to tell her I was suspended. I was just covering it up until necessary, not intentionally lying, so I did tell her about it and how I don’t care. She said she would call again about the funeral.

Thursday morning my parents picked my brother and I up again. He brought a sleeping bag, I had four days worth of clothes, a pillow, a blanket, and a book on accelerationism. My younger brother was going to ride with my mother and father in my father’s car. I might have been going to, or I could ride with my cousin. My older brother was definitely to go with my cousin. She got a ticket, and was then late. So, I went with my parents and my brother with my aunt and uncle. We drove two and a half hours to my grandfather’s house.

I slept in a chair, it was hot, it was uncomfortable, I stayed up until I passed out. I got five hours of sleep. I awoke to people beginning to get dressed for a funeral. It was January 20th, 2017. My father complained about being in jeans for his mother’s funeral. I wore a black sweater, black pants, and a black tie. My father walked into his mother’s funeral with a checkbook sticking out of his back pocket.

It was a catholic place. There was a baptismal fountain with a little waterfall. It was uneven. There was a tapestry behind it. It was uneven. The church was built to face one direction, but then faced another. There were placement markers all over the floor. My grandmother’s open casket sat near the center. My aunt was crying. There were emotions.

My parents said they won’t leave ‘til Monday, my cousin Saturday night, but my great uncle and grandmother were leaving later that day. They had a shitty car, it might break down, we thought, that’s a lot of miles. We knew the risk but went with it. Their van had enough room for the stupid plant.

We went the wrong way for about half an hour before turning around to retrace our steps. We ended up going the right way just to end up broken down on the side of the interstate. Not quite broken down, dying, but enough life was left in that thing to roll it into town. We asked a gas station attendant where one might service a vehicle. No, the Wal-Mart didn’t have an auto center, but that’s not what the gas station guy said. That is how we ended up in a Wal-Mart.

But I’m not writing this stuck in a Wal-Mart in the middle of nowhere Wisconsin. We did manage to get out of there. I texted a few people, and the two most likely to help were either a state away or at work. Then I remembered that I knew someone in this small city. But she would never talk to me. I didn’t even know her number anymore. She never blocked me, just stopped listening.