I’m not sure why people are so interested in my sleeping arrangements. I’ve had more conversations in the last two months about sleeping on an air mattress than I thought would happen in a lifetime. There seems to be a plethora of real beds going around the Greater Kansas City area, and everyone knows someone with an extra. But at the end of the day, I am devoted to my air mattress. I like to say it’s because I can deflate it at a moment’s notice, stuff it in my backpack and just take off, but in all actuality I think I have just perfected the inflation ratio.
Don G. used to be Catholic but now he is kind of Buddhist. He went to a Zen meditation meeting on Wednesday and a Tibetan service on Sunday. He and his girlfriend watched Food, Inc. and documentaries about the Dalai Lama on Netflix, and now Don is kind of a vegetarian. We discuss the Buddha’s teachings in between rounds of trivia at the bar. “Desire is the cause of all suffering,” Don says. When the waitress comes back, she tells me they are sold out of the Nutcracker ale and asks if I would like something different.
The ringer on David’s old iPhone broke, so he got a new one for Christmas. He offered me his old one, and I joked that I could get one for 99 cents at AT&T. David laughed and said, “Yeah, but you would have to sign a two-year contract. And we all know how you are with commitment.”
I had the phone two days when it fell out of my purse and onto the pavement, sending spiderweb cracks across the screen. I thought it was the universe trying to tell me not to be attached to technology or convenience or status. Or maybe the universe knew I didn’t have a data plan and was parading around with an iPhone like a fraud. Or maybe I’m just clumsy.
I get caught up in everything sometimes. Both consumerism and minimalism. I know it frustrates people when I won’t commit to a person or a place or even a bed for fear of being trapped. I frustrate myself when I fall so easily into the consumerist mindset, more concerned with my apps than with real people.
Don drinks his Stella and offers us a piece of his veggie pizza while the guy hosting trivia tallies the points. “You know what the Zen people say at that meeting?” he asks. We shake our heads.
“Be here now,” Don says, nodding slightly in appreciation of the wisdom of the phrase. “Be here now.”