I measure life in bottles of vitamins. One pill per day, each day, without skipping: a measured and controlled path forward, toward whatever future lies ahead. As each bottle grows lighter and emptier, I move away from the person I had been when I began, toward the person I will be when I consume the final pill. Rinse and repeat. A chain of little bottles, back to back, tracking my progress through months, years, decades. My small ever-present companions.

Each vitamin bottle is the opposite of a time capsule: a known quantity that will disappear by a certain date, leaving behind it nothing but a plastic shell. A known known. An utter lack of surprise and the most banal imaginable method of tracking time. A message in a bottle in reverse.

The previous bottle ran out a few weeks ago. I’d started it before I made the choice, for the second time in my life, to leave behind everything and move to a new country where I knew absolutely no one. I’d started it before I drove across the continent, almost the entire length of the mighty I-90, for four days and three nights. I’d started it before I met her. Before I knew her. Before she died.

The new bottle has 365 pills. The only thing I know for sure is when I will be at the end. But as for where, or how, or even who…

One pill per day, each day, without skipping. Slowly and steadily, whatever lies ahead.