Inflating, Deflating, and Staring | Teen Ink

Inflating, Deflating, and Staring

January 28, 2010
By Anne Gifford SILVER, Sudbury, Massachusetts
Anne Gifford SILVER, Sudbury, Massachusetts
9 articles 5 photos 0 comments

Well, someone else will probably pick it up, right? If I just shut my eyes, or look down there, by my feet, maybe it’ll go away. Maybe if I tap my shoes against the car mat, and fiddle with the radio, mom will come back soon and then we can leave. We can drive off and pretend this never happened. Pretend this decision was never made and this contemplation never took place. I mean, it’s not my responsibility to pick up it—it’s not like I dropped it. How harmful could it really be? I’m sitting complacently in my car while the bag rolls over there on the grass. A mostly harmless plastic bag can’t ruin my Thanksgiving.

But tapping my feet got tiring. Fiddling with the radio got irritating. Waiting for mom to return was fruitless. These activities weren’t as mind-numbing as I’d hoped. The bag, rolling around in the grassy field beyond the parking lot, picked at my thoughts. Sitting in the passenger seat of the parked car, I contemplated what to do next. I felt that piercing obligation to swing open the car door and march triumphantly over to the bag. Only twenty yards away, if even that. So what if people stare? I’m helping the environment. I’m exhibiting the leadership that my school preaches. If these watchers know me, then maybe they’ll joke about this crazy tree hugger from Nashoba who tried so valiantly to instill that piercing environmental obligation into every person she encountered while in middle school. The difference now, though, is that at my school, I’m not the eco-warrior—or at the least the eco-warrior who’s overly vocal. I’m not what I used to be. So, if I don’t get out of this car, am I proving a change in myself? That’s probably another change I won’t be too happy about.

The brown plastic bag continued to waver about, but there was no wind strong enough to lift it from the ground. It had some supermarket, maybe Shaw’s or Stop and Shop, written on it, but the words were hard to make out as it wavered up and down. The only attachment it had to the ground was a neighboring stick that lightly grabbed at the bag’s loose and somewhat torn handles. This decision shouldn’t be that hard. Either I get out of the car or I stay here. Either I prevent harm in the future, or I worry about an embarrassment. I worry about a big gust of wind swooping the plastic bag off the ground just as I stop one foot behind it. I worry about the possible fight I may endure to control this bag. I worry, worry, and worry about all the hypothetical situations. Through all this worrying, I glance over to plastic bag. Yep, still there, just as I’d expected.

In an irrational moment, when I tell my brain to be quiet, I clench the car door’s handle, vigilantly open it (being sure not to knick the neighboring automobile), and place my feet on the pavement, all the while staring at the plastic bag, just in case it decides to fly upward into the gray sky. I lift myself out and now contemplate whether to run to the plastic bag or to casually stroll over and just happen to see it there and decide to nonchalantly place it in the bin. All this thinking, and internal arguments, could continue for minutes, or I could stop it now. I could stop thinking and just walk over there, to the plastic bag.

My feet, hitting the hard and smooth pavement, walk in a direct line toward the bag. “It will probably fly upward the minute I get there!” my mind screams. My body responds with, “So what?!” My feet stumble from the pavement to the soggy grass because my fixation is on this bag and nothing else. My mind won’t release me until I reach down and snatch its perpetrator.

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