My Two Cents

I was walking through the forest with you – two years ago – and I remember the light was breaking in between the branches. The forest is green. Our forest is always green.

“I am impressed with how much time I spend looking down at the ground when there is so much to see above us.”

He looked up. He saw the light breaking in between the branches, swaying in the wind.

“I don’t know about you but if I looked up all the time, I would fall down.”

Sometimes I fall down, even when I am looking down. I don’t know what to do about that.
Inside the drawer, I place my two cents. I count all the money – both registers – and everyday the register evens out. I am getting good at counting things; sliding the coins into regular, seeable amounts in my hands, mentally counting, thirty-six, forty-one, forty-three…and when I am done, I add my cents.

A woman comes and I make change. I am short a few pennies. I grab a nickel and go to the other register and receieve five pennies.

“I don’t need it.” she says.

“I need to do it right.”

I give her the right change and she puts it into the donation box.

“I am sorry, but I can’t be one off.”

“If I can give you my two cents, it doesn’t matter.”
Every night we print off the credit card receipts to make sure they match the computer receipts. When we are bored we do it before we start counting. We want to head off any problems.

For a week, we were off two or three cents. I put in my two cents – what did it matter if we were eighteen cents off, or thirty-one cents off, or two cents off. The manual says if it is less than a dollar it doesn’t matter. The manual was written by the person who is trying to reconcile (the actual term we use) the difference. The manual is not written for this person. It says nowhere in the manual that the manual can be overridden.
I received some items. My boss, a very kind southern man asks me how I am doing.

“I am literally two cents off here Lawrence.”

He smiles.

“It will cost you more than two cents of your time to make up for that two cents.”

I do the math in my head.

What is worth two cents of my time? How many seconds? I take my salary and start dividing it into second increments. Then it hits me – is it worth my time to count this up? I am off the clock. What is my time worth when nobody is paying me? Is it worth more or less? It is my weekend or my day-off. I would rather be wasting someone elses time than my own.

I lay down with a bag of ice on my head. I am happy I don’t have a dog. I have a cat. He will not carry my book into the room for me. This seems an appropriate way to spend my time.
I am worth x cents per second at my job. It amounts to roughly two cents a second. When I am not working I am worth y cents per second – and why is an infinite variable than fluctuates depending on my activities. It goes onto a number in the range of aleph^1 when I am writing, talking to my friends, having sex or have drunk to the extent where I am surveying strangers on the street, falling down, and arguing with bartenders and then the ocean. The number functions in the range of aleph-nought when I am sleeping, watching baseball, masturbating, playing video-games, or not drunk at all and arguing with bartenders and then the ocean.

There are gray areas.

y has potential. It has spontaneity. It has an unpredictability.

x is set. It is routine. It will not fluctuate. It is stable and you can plan your monthly purchases around it.

There are gray areas.
I breathe deep and give my two cents to the ocean. The ocean is what I could call a blue area. The two cents make a plinking noise and drift oddly to the bottom. The fish would swim around my ankles. I would stomp silently on the floor, the sand kicking up and up and I couldn’t see my ankles, then I couldn’t see my knees, then I couldn’t see my thighs. I half-expected to see a shark or a barracuda when it cleared. I never saw anything.

I spend one-thousand two-hundred and ninety-nine and a half of my two-cents to push weights around in a controlled environment with mirrors and tvs. There is a picture of Kristin Davis on the cover of a magazine – it is water damaged. I chug two bottles of water. I feel an ocean in my stomach – I want to yell at it.

I approach the counter.

“I am water damaged.”

She hands me a Clif Bar. It says it is made from Banana Bread.

“It is on the house.”

I wonder where the house is. It tastes nothing like Banana Bread.
Lawrence gives me my money on a piece of paper with his name and some number on it than I walk across the street to a place with windows and sign some stuff and it goes on a magical card and I walk across the parking lot and I go to the store and grab some packaged food-stuffs and get in a line and make friendly chatter and I swipe the magic card and he lets me leave with the food-stuffs then I go home to the house where they let me sleep because I wrote an endorsement of money on a piece of paper with a different number on it and he goes to his place with windows and he signs some stuff and then he does whatever he wants with that money, probably buying his food-stuff from a very similar if not identical store, and putting gasoline in his car, and probably going to the place where I work, or an identical if not very similar place, and arguing with the clerk if it is really stainless steel and puts it back on the rack because it says it was made in India.
The water doesn’t make a plinking noise when I put my head under the water. I am standing on my hands, and it is easy because the water makes it easy. Someone approaches me and grabs my ankles. I try to yell but water rushes into my mouth. It tastes salty.

This is a blue area. I realize that then, and my brain yelled out “BLUE!”

When I come back up, the perpetrator is swimming away violently without grace. He splashes a lot. Some kids are chirping and yelling at each other in a foreign language. It isn’t foreign to them. My language is though. The perpetrator climbs some stairs. He is at the top, near the fence by the house. He is smoking a cigarette, it drips down his legs and runs onto the stone stairs, with the wide cracks and the found metal, a piece of plumbing strung up with wire and hooks. It looks slippery.

He doesn’t have a towel. I wonder how he got his hands so dry because the base of the cigarette hasn’t broken off.
Back home, at the forest we clear out and I fumble my keys out of my pocket, then I realize you drove us. We are leaving the green area. I put in my two cents to a jar and I keep it underneath my bed. If I put it in everyday, which can theoretically go on forever, I can use x to change y. I feel as though I have defeated math.

Then I realize I will probably just take the change when I am desperate, go to the store, buy some beer, drink it, not feel anything and decide to go out and yell at the forest. I will lose my nerve when I can’t find my socks. The decision maker in my brain will press the Override button and then big red the Abort button.

I will realign my expectations. I will give my two cents to the world.
I will reconcile that big wide gap in myself.


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