By Rachel Michelman
YOUR HOMETOWN, USA — Although it feels like a century since you last googled “Why am I alive?” it has only been five minutes. Your life has become a joyless reminder of the hellhole you were born in since the COVID-19 pandemic forced you to return to your childhood bedroom.
According to the little voice in the back of your head, an expert on you, you’re a “failure” because you swore you’d “never return” and that you’d “make a life for yourself.” However, for the last few weeks, you have only managed to dissociate as you stare at your own face in the shared bathroom mirror, wondering if this is all real.
Your Mom, the only woman you’ve ever been emotionally vulnerable to, praised “all the cool things happening around town” — like how “the local grocery store is being remodeled,” or how “that one teacher from your high school retired.” She added,“Oh, you should check out that new vegan cafe! I heard they evicted five families to get the property!” This brought the information that Mom apparently thinks gentrification is entertaining.
Your Father’s opinion is no better, since your Hometown Team’s games were cancelled for public safety. Besides his job at a midsize refrigeration company, reading the newspaper, and “what these damn liberals are doing to our country,” he has not found a new pastime. When asked how your hometown team was doing earlier this season, Father responded with “This and that. They win and then they. . . eh. When they had Hamperson in the ‘80s, man, back then they were something.” Reports confirmed that you have heard this every year of your life.
Studies suggest that until August, your only coping mechanism will be drinking cheap beer in your car, parked in the lot of the gas station at which you bought it. Coincidentally, said gas station is your place of minimum-wage employment until you can be swept out of this purgatory. According to your mind, this is the only logical solution to living in a town whose main exports are disillusioned teens and wannabe professional athletes.