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white lighter

I break down and decide to clean my car. It's reached an intolerable level of filth and has a gradually less subtle stench of rot from an unknown source. Plus, I'm visiting my parents' house and have access to their cleaning supplies so the starts have aligned. It's filthy, covered in crumbs and cat hair, so much so that the black floor mats look a muddled gray. I’m riding the high of productivity tonight, a sensation I rarely experience but constantly long for. When these spurts of action come about my ADHD brain seems to overcome its inability to focus on a thought for longer than three seconds and I feel superhuman.


“Take out the trash bags, bring the trash bags to the front door. Find the keys, move the car. Turn on the lights in the car, roll down the windows. Find the carpet cleaner and a rag, open the garage door. Plug in the extension chord, attach it to the shop vacuum.”


At any point along the way even the slightest inconvenience could throw me off track. Perhaps I can’t find the carpet cleaner so I have to look up natural remedies for stains on car seats. I start down my search and get distracted by an Instagram notification. I sink into the couch and start watching reels. An hour later I'm still there debating whether or not I should order DoorDash. 


But this doesn’t happen, somehow everything is where it should be and the combination of determination and convenience keeps me on task. I remove the floor mats from the car first, banging them repetitively against the frame of the trellis framing the entryway to my parents’ house. The dust flies off, three, five, ten hits in. I’m satisfied by the state of filth I find my belongings in. So many months, maybe years of debris collected only to be beat away in the matter of seconds. “I’m so powerful," I think and feel. In the first trash bag I collect trash, receipts, wrappers, envelopes, old makeup brushes, empty packaging, nonsense. There’s nonsense everywhere. Who needs porn when you have artificially scented trash bags to disappear things into. The second bag is for loose belongings of which there are plenty. My under worn Doc Martens, my over worn Adidas Air Force’s, slides I thought I left at a friend’s house, a flannel I could genuinely care less about. I'm satisfied to find that with everything in the trash bag the trunk looks cleaner. I promise myself I'll remember to take the trash bag inside and unload it as soon as I’m back in Oakland, and I never break the promises I make to myself ;)


I open the passenger door to unload the contents of its compartment and find an old cigarette. I have a vague memory of sliding it in there although I can’t remember anything else about the circumstances surrounding this recollection. It feels sentimental, a call from a happy time. I think to myself how nice it would be to smoke it for old time’s sake, perhaps it would bring back the buried memory. “Well I have no lighter, so it isn’t meant to be” I think, and place it back where I found it. I continue on, pulling the shop vac over and proceeding to vacuum the floors of the car. Potato chips fly up through the tube as I discover forgotten treasures in the underbellies of my car seats. I come across machinery used for checking tire pressure and leave it where I found it, moving it slightly to access the crevice behind it. As I move it, a bright white object catches my eye, heavily contrasted in the shadows of the dark upholstery. I do a double take, uncertain it is what I think it is…a lighter. A white lighter. 


Once I finish cleaning my car, I sit on the dock in my parents’ backyard, watching the reflection of lights dancing on the water. The moon bounces like a ball, warping in shape in chorus with the ripples. I smoke the cigarette and hate myself. I guess it was meant to be.



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