Monday, June 15, 2009


He always had the feeling he should be doing something. Just what he was supposed to be doing, was never clear. At the moment he was waiting to cross the street. He thought the sky wanted to snow, he could feel it in the air. Three blocks from home, tired, and hungry, he hoped a shower and a cup of coffee would give him some energy. Their were things he needed to do.
The light changed, and he crossed. The kitchen was a mess. If he could get it clean, and keep it that way, maybe he could get back to cooking real food every once in awhile. He would need to do laundry at some point, but he wasn't sure he had enough quarters. And the list could go on, the bedroom, the bathroom, the trash, and so on. But all that was just subsiding, getting by from day to day, like getting up every morning and going to work. That wasn't it. There was something there he lost a long time ago, and he needed to find it, but what was it.
It was early December and there was something in the air, an excitement he found beautiful. He took a deep breath, closed his eyes for a moment more than a blink, and looked around. The lines and angles of the building and the streets changed as he passed through them. Some sparrows hopped around the bare branches of a tree and flew away as he walked beneath. Some passed by him on the sidewalk, more on the other side, some in every car that drove by, and more, as he walked by the coffee shop, staring at computer screens and newspapers. All had that something incomprehensible behind their eyes. He tried to comprehend it, but failed. For almost a block he was in the middle of it all. Then he wasn't.
Where he was exactly wasn't clear, until he heard himself remind himself he needed to pay rent. He tried to calculate how much money he had in the bank. A half block ahead, he saw the light turn green. Great, he thought, he would get there just in time for it to turn yellow. He hated that light. It was slow and the traffic was too much to jaywalk. He just wanted to be home.
Block later, he was almost home, out of breath from climbing the hill and worried that maybe he was out of shape. The mail was mostly junk, but he separated one bill and tried to figure when payday was.
The cat was there to greet him but he couldn't pet her because his hands were full. She rubbed against his leg and he tried to find a place to stick the mail. The answering machine was full of junk so he deleted it all. He turned on the computer and felt bad because he'd all but ignored the cat. He gave a few pets and put some food in her bowl, heated up some coffee from that morning and went to the bathroom, which also needed to be cleaned.
The face in the mirror was tired and looked older than he was comfortable with, so he didn't look at it.
The computer booted up, and he sat down in front of it. Something was wrong with the internet connection so he fumbled with that until it fixed itself somehow. He needed to check his e-mail. He needed to check his bank balance. He needed to check something else. What was it? He needed something. He needed coffee. The coffee was still in the microwave. It was still hot and tasted bearable, so he took it and sat down again. He checked to see if his girlfriend was online, but she wasn't. She would be online soon, he thought, she usually was. So he played a round of solitaire while he waited. He lost. He tried again. Eventually he won, but he managed to waste an hour in the process. His girlfriend still wasn't online so he took a shower.
An hour or so later, he lost another game of solitaire. Nothing got done and the cat was looking at him. Once again his brain went through the list of things that needed to be done, but never settled on anything. Why was this so hard? It wasn't as if his life was complicated. All he really needed to do was take care of himself, to get by from day to day. But he couldn't seem to do that very well. What was he missing? Was there something somebody forgot to tell him? Then there was this thing inside telling him there was something he needed to be doing, that his life was slipping by, wasted on petty everyday concerns and chores he never took care of anyway. But what was it? He told himself if he could just get organized, get caught up, maybe he'd have the time to figure it out. But it all seemed like such a waste of time.
His stomach growled, but all there was to eat was peanut butter and bread. That didn't sound good. If the kitchen was cleaner, maybe he could cook something, if he had something to cook. He could buy something, but he new better. He would wait until he got some work done in the kitchen, or else the food would just go bad in the fridge.
Feeling a little sick and light-headed, he went back to the computer. No one was online. All he wanted was for everything to just go away. There was a time when he could sit and listen to music for hours and let his mind go where it would. He missed that. But there always seemed like there was something more important to do. Maybe this time there wasn't. Maybe this was just what he needed, but what to listen to.
It took him too long to decide on something. Nothing seemed to match the mood he was in. He would think of something, but then again maybe not. Soon his eyes were scanning the CDs, back and forth, but not actually seeing them. If he could just focus. That'll do. The music had barely started when he had a better idea. He grabbed another CD and put that on. He sat down on the couch and tried to get comfortable. It took a few tries. The music kicked in. It would work. It was something he hadn't listened to in a long time. He wondered why he hadn't listened to it in a long time. Soon his mind was gone, but not liked he hoped it would. It was wound so tight, had been for so long. It was spinning, and spinning, and wouldn't stop. It was all what he needed to do, what he wanted to do, and all the things he knew would never happen. He wasn't listening anymore. When he realized he'd missed all but the end of one of his favorite songs, he felt sad. He played it again. He sat back, took a deep breath, like taking an arm and shoving everything off a desk, he closed his eyes and listened. But an empty desk doesn't take long to collect clutter. His mind went in and out. Sometimes it was good; other times he had to clear it and start over.
Soon he remembered he was hungry, not that he cared much, but he would have to go to bed soon and an empty stomach often kept him awake. It seemed forever since he got enough sleep, which was nothing but painful when he tried to get up for work. All he ever wanted to do anymore was sleep, but he never seemed to get around to it.
He fixed himself some peanut butter sandwiches and sat in front of the computer again. She wasn't online, so ate and played solitaire.
The next thing he knew, it was too late. He swore at himself because he wouldn't get the extra sleep he wanted. If he went to bed now, he could get enough. He brushed his teeth, then went to make sure the door was locked, it was, then he remembered there was something else he needed to do in the bathroom. He tried not to look at himself in the mirror. What had he come in there for? Oh yeah. He washed his hands and took his contacts out. He checked the door; it was locked. What else needed to be done? No one was online, so he shut the computer down. What else? There had to be something. He shut the light out and went to bed, pulled up the covers. He should go to the bathroom. He did, washed his hands, and went back to bed. Was the door locked? He almost got up to check it, but was sure it was, and forced himself to believe it. Coffee. He needed to set the up the coffee maker so it would start automatically. There was nothing worse than getting up and having to wait for coffee.
Soon he was back in bed. If there was anything left to do, it could wait. He almost fell asleep, but didn't. An hour later he was still awake and getting angry. He wanted to cry. He wanted to scream. Neither was very productive, so he got up.
In the darkened living room, the light was filtering through the mini blinds pinkish orange. Then he remembered. It was snowing. He pulled up the blinds. Two or three inches had accumulated already, and it was still going steady, nice big flakes falling silently, landing silently. The snow muffled the few sounds there were to be muffled at that time of night. He turned his chair to the window and sat watching it. It was quiet. So quiet. He decided not to think about it too much, and, for once, he didn't.

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