In the trash room of my parents’ new condo in Coconut Grove, you can press a button to tell the trash chute what kind of trash it will be receiving: periodicals, cans and bottles, or regular garbage. The hallways are plush-carpeted and floral-scented. Even the gym, which is just a largeish mirrored room full of different kinds of brand new exercise equipment, is plush-carpeted and floral-scented. Everything is done in subtle, soothing shades of cream and pale brick red and pale green, and in the hallways there are large oil paintings of dead pheasants and tapestries and heavy chandeliers. It’s like a cartoon about the idea of luxury, sort of like how Florida is a cartoon about the idea of paradise.
Today we went to a big manicured tropical garden where my mom has purchased a membership and we walked around the man-made ponds and waterfalls looking at hypertrophic versions of familiar houseplants. There was an iguana with a ruff around its neck and I moved too close to it and made it hurriedly clamber up a palm tree.
On her cel phone, my mom was talking to my little brother about the plans for my grandfather’s funeral, so I didn’t have to smile or make conversation and I could just walk around and think about whatever was in my head. I stared up at the perfect blue sky, dotted with fluffy white clouds. I bent my head and took a big whiff of some little purple flowers so sweet-smelling they didn’t even smell real. I felt the warmth of the sun and the slight balmy breeze on my bare arms. I tried to absorb it all through my eyes and my pores, like it was some kind of medicine. I tried to remind myself that beauty is here for us to enjoy, and that we are here to enjoy beauty.
But I didn’t start feeling better. I keep not starting to feel better. There’s nothing I want to do and nothing that I want to think and nothing that I want to say. There’s no one I want to talk to and no place I want to go. And there’s nothing I want to eat. I haven’t been hungry in weeks.