Holden Lombardo '23
Part I: Rotten Things
On December 26th, there’s something wrong with the sight of a Christmas tree. The tree does not belong and it has overstayed its welcome already. In the first weeks of November, some pumpkins continue to sit on the steps of houses and rot, victims of the occasional scavenging squirrel. The pumpkins do not belong either. In a way, they are already gone, yet they linger for a few moments longer, dejected remnants of what they once were. In the later weeks of November, after the pumpkins rot away, people excitedly rush off to buy their Christmas trees and haul them back to their houses, where they string them with lights and ornaments and tinsel and a star and it is special and right. And it is the same.
Part II: The Adventures of Unx
Once there was an alien named Unx and he lived on the planet Spapzuleb with his mom and three dads (they do things differently there). Unx was young and wide-eyed, his blue head the shape of a dented spoon. On a weekend trip with his family, Unx’s spaceship crash-landed in a little town named Hodgenville, which is on Earth and in Kentucky. While his parents fixed the ship, Unx walked around the town, fascinated by every person, plant, or animal he passed. Strangely, outside nearly every house, Unx saw a big, dead tree lying on the street corner and Unx felt sad for the trees. In Earth days, it was December 26th.
The next year, Unx saved up all his money from his after-school job at the yocket so he could take the IB (Intergalactic Buxelig) to Earth and see all the people and trees again at the same time as last year. Unfortunately, since Spapzuleb only has 11 months in a year, Unx arrived in Hodgenville on November 26th. He peered through the windows and saw families gathered beside open fires, propping up the same big trees, which had been rejuvenated with life. Everybody was happy and Unx was happy for them, but he did not understand. How could these people, who he had seen discarding the same trees just one year ago, now happily decorate the things as if nothing had ever happened? How could they love what they had left behind in the dust?
Part III: America
The first episode of HBO’s acclaimed crime series, The Wire, opens with a conversation between a detective and a witness of a recent homicide. The victim’s name is Omar Isaiah, but everybody called him Snot Boogie. The witness explains how every Friday night, a group of friends would shoot dice behind a liquor store, and when the pot of money got big, Snot Boogie would run away with the cash. Every Friday night, they caught him and took the money back, until one day someone had enough of Snot and shot him. The detective asks why they let him play, every Friday night, if he always stole the money and ran, and the witness replies, annoyed by the simple question. Got to. This America, man.
Part IV: New Years
I used to hate New Year's Eve. Every year, the ball dropped and the countdown stopped and the clock changed and everybody was so excited. 11:59 then 12:00, but everything felt the same to me — every year with confetti and music, every December 26th with dead and silent trees, every Friday night with Snot Boogie behind the liquor store. The human mind is programmed to see patterns, and patterns are cycles that turn and turn and return, but the world is not all cycles and patterns. Sometimes, if we step away we can see that. 11:59 is not 12:00. They are different, distinctly different. If Unx knew more, he would have known that those were not the same people and not the same trees. If Snot Boogie knew more, he could have saved himself, but he was shot. Why did his friends keep letting him play? Because this is America, and that is what America does best, or rather what we do best: patterns and cycles. Our lives are neither cyclical nor patterned, but free to start anew in the same place we have always been. The sun rises every morning, and it is always the sun, but sometimes it is orange and sometimes it is yellow and sometimes it is covered in slim gray wisps of clouds. On December 26th the tree is dead, but in November another will take its place, and it is the same and not the same at all.