Before leaving

When I am nearly out the door becomes the perfect time to unjam the drawer with the umbrella I won't be needing, the right time to look for my glasses prescription in the filing cabinet, which means I'll be moving the bicycle standing in front of it momentarily out of the way and while I am there, the perfect time to fetch a paper towel and wipe the dust off the floor. Washing my hands leads to replacing the damp kitchen towel with a fresh one from the linen closet, and then reorganizing the small and large towels on the right and left side of the middle shelf. It is the perfect time to check if the towels in the bathroom need to be washed and throw them in the hamper and then do a quick walkthrough of all the rooms to pick up any clothing to add to the wash. Meeting my reflection in the mirror becomes the perfect time to wash my face and rebraid my hair. The straggly strands of hair around my temples are not long enough to tuck behind my ears, I look for hair pins in my jewelry case to secure them and decide it is the best time to wear those earrings I haven't worn for a while. They don't quite match my top and I change into a different sweater, which is too short for my comfort and so I have to change my pants too. The dark blue jeans fit too snuggly and I start breathing fast, my heart thumping, telling myself this is what you get for eating all those challah buns. My confidence is shattered and I wonder if I should just stay home, but I'd like to go for a walk and swing by the bookstore or the cafe or both. I open the Books list note on my phone to determine which book I will be on the lookout for, although I already have enough books and should check if I can get it from the library instead. It is the perfect time to rearrange the books on the bookshelves, color coding for a change, reds on the top right and blues above my desk. I remember a phrase in a book and want to find it again, the perfect time to look for the quote about the worst feeling in the world and I know where it is because it is the color red. The domino chain is nowhere near the end and I am beginning to be convinced that occupying myself with something at home and risking being sad about not going outside might be better than the risk of going out and being unhappy. I think about writing all the things I do when I am trying to leave and wonder what it would look like, and what others will think of it, and what would others think about what I think about what they think, and what it looks like to care about what others think, and I feel I am looking into an infinity mirror and it is making me anxious.


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