The Rise and Fall of Great Powers by Tom Rachman


What she longed for was a person who’d say, as none ever had, “This is all so fake, isn’t it? Wink at me sometimes and it’ll be our sign.”

There are a million things I should be doing right now:

Writing two thank you notes to two dear women.

The dishes.

The laundry.

Writing a novel for middle schoolers.

Writing a novel for adults.

Uploading and sharing about 75 photos from a fabulous hiking trip (see last post).

Feeding somebody or something.

Creating a deposit.

Reading a very, very good book.

Thinking of brilliant ideas with which to impress my boss.

Notifying the world about this amazing computer scientist who let a helium balloon carry him about a million miles into space (25 miles, actually) and then, gulp, let go.

Having a conversation with my beloved. About anything, really. Doesn’t matter.

Feeling grateful for my new pants, which are exercise pants and therefore extremely comfortable, but also subtle enough to wear to work.

Shopping for Halloween costumes. Yes, I know the date.

But here is what I am doing, instead of any of these productive things: I’m thinking about gelato.

And thinking about streaming me some West Wing. Because I miss having a smart TV show explain politics to me, and you know, the issues are still basically the same, so reruns are fine.

You would be amazed, you would, at the clever and complex blog posts I write in my head ALL THE TIME. Tonight as I poached fish and cut potatoes and fielded questions about multiplication and local state elections, I wrote (well, thought) a truly inspired post about how I used to want to be the person who rode a helium balloon into space and now I just want to be the person who watches someone else ride a helium balloon into space, and how that’s really just fine. And about how my lack of sense of adventure and distaste for danger isn’t a thing to lament, to mourn, to point toward as a mark of age and ever-looming D-E-A-T-H, but instead a sign of maturity, of peaceful acceptance of the clear beauty of quiet weekend cups of coffee stolen on the landing looking out the small square window at a neglected but well-loved yard. I don’t have to be adventurous to be valid. Why yes, I am 17+ years that brave man’s junior, but I’m happy to let him have all the helium-balloon-falling-breaking-sound-barrier glory. Some people are made for it. Me, I refuse any more to ride the amusement park rides. That shit’s for young ‘uns.

And now, time for gelato.

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