Friday, June 5, 2009

sick day

I am not good at anything. I have a little talent in a lot of things but not a lot of talent in any one thing. I guess my problem is indecision; if I could have picked one thing from the beginning and focused on it, maybe I would be somewhere by now. But how does one pick and choose among his children, or abandon something that has defined him since his youth? Instead of defining me, they rendered me neither one thing or the other. I had become nothing.
These thoughts tormented me as I sat at the kitchen table watching the rain, and the blue gray morning. I couldn't bring myself to go to work, to mop another floor, to scrub another toilet, so I called in sick. And maybe I was sick. I played with the notion of going insane. Something about wearing pajamas, being sedated, and staring out a window all day appealed to me. I wondered if maybe there was something wrong with me, but I couldn't put my finger on anything. None of the diseases I knew anything about seemed to fit me. Again, I had a little of each, but not a lot of any. To be completely sane or completely insane was all I wanted, but that gray middle ground was driving me crazy.
To justify taking the day off, I told myself I would use the day to relax a bit, clear my head, and maybe even do something productive. Sitting there, drinking coffee, it was becoming clear none of that would happen. As my brain woke up, it spun faster and faster, off to who knows were. Then something would say, hey you're supposed to do something productive today, then it would start listing of things I need to do. Then something else would say, no, you need to relax, clear your mind, remember who you are, and where you're going. I could go for a drive. I could take a walk in the rain. I could, but there were so many things I'd been meaning to do; wouldn't it feel better to get some of it done? Wouldn't the best way to get those nagging worries off my mind be to take care of them once and for all? But it wouldn't be once and for all, I knew that. There would always be something else to replace them.
So it went on like that. Just when I was about to tell myself to shut up, the phone rang.
We all have out worst nightmares. Lately I had become good at inventing them. Someone would be late or the phone would ring when I least expected it and the scenarios play across my mind. Mostly they were simple like car accidents or sudden unforeseen heart attacks. Sometimes they were a bit more inventive such as freak home accidents. Others were just disturbing such as attacks by serial killers or rapists. These stirred up a black sludge of anger, hatred, and fear. I didn't like the feel of it at all, so I chased it away, if I could.
Sometimes I would be the subject of the fantasy. Walking to work I might slip on a patch of ice, or get hit by a car and break my leg; preferably my left leg, so it would have minimal impact on my ability to drive. I had never broken anything, and I didn't like the thought of it, but it sure would be hard to work with a broken leg. I had enough sick time I could easily afford at least three weeks off. If I felt a bit strange one day it could be some strange disease, preferably one that didn't kill me and wasn't too painful. I didn't like this one too much. I had an acquaintance who died that way. I didn't see her for some time, and of course the worse case scenarios played themselves out until someone finally told me what happened. One of those worse case scenarios was correct. It was a brain tumor. That bothered me for a long time. Sometimes it still bothers me. But then, it never was about me, I had no say in the matter, and no one asked what I thought. So what if I liked her; she had a brain tumor and died. Everything that could be done, was done, and still she died. I couldn't come up with a rhyme or a reason for it; it just was, and that was what made it hard to digest.
For the most part, these were all academic, just mental exercises. Sure, every now and then I scared myself. There were even times I got emotional, but this was rare. Though all of these fantasies were entirely plausible, and I knew they happened all the time, I never believed them. It was just interesting to think through how I would feel and what I would do.
After a bit I'd stop and ask myself, do I really want this to happen? Do I want this person to die? Do I want to get hit by a truck? Was I really that bored? I never wished harm on anyone, and though it had it's benefits, breaking my left leg was not my idea of a good time. But I had to admit drama, even trauma, can make one feel alive, more so than just getting up every day and going to work. Maybe I needed a pinch to wake me from that long gray dream I found myself trudging through. Maybe I was sick after all. If that was the case, I'd at least have an excuse.
So the phone ran. There was nothing special about this. Telemarketers and whatnot called all the time. Though I lost track, and didn't know the time, it seemed like an odd time to call. It seemed like a good time for something big to happen, something that would change everything.
I let the answering machine do its job. I waited. It played through my less than cheerful greeting. The red light blinked; it was recording. I leaned over it to listen. Nothing. Dead air. I guess it wasn't anything important.
I sat back down and lifted my cup to my lips. I was out of coffee. I got up and went to the bathroom.

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