I run past Dan’s store on Passyunk Avenue, I see his Christmas trees for sale at curbside, breathe the scent of pine and hear “Grandma Got Run Over By a Reindeer” skipping from the speakers above his storefront. Each time this happens, I feel it has always happened, and always will; that I’m jogging around a large track that brings me past Dan’s Christmas shop at the same time each day, and what I do before and after this daily occurrence is more or less the same as what I’ve done on previous days.
Don’t be crazy, I tell myself. It only feels like last year’s Christmas season never ended. The couple in the Explorer who just asked me where Pat’s Steaks is — it only seems like they ask me this every day. John the shopping-bag salesman with his cart full of bags and his quadruple layer of overcoats — he’s not really on the market all the time, listening to the Eagles game on an ancient boom box. And Jack Bogus, the restaurant owner — when I turn the corner, he won’t be outside, painting those cellar doors the same color again.
But there he is, and there’s his brutal orange paint. WTF! Am I buying into the myth of “eternal return” that Nietzsche, for some reason, found so attractive? Have I seen Groundhog Day too many times? If I chase Jack Bogus and he’s back here tomorrow, painting again, should I surrender to fate, learn to love it?
Pointless questions. I should be researching Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD, isn’t that cute?), not eternal return. There’s nothing wrong with me that a new passport and a plane ticket wouldn’t fix. Or a frontal lobotomy. Or a bottle in front of me.