Friday, June 5, 2009

The Shhhh Trees

Do this for me.

Close your eyes and take in a breath. Go ahead, I'll wait...

What do you feel at this particular moment? What do you feel inside your head? Inside your gut? You might feel:
  • Bored
  • Hungry
  • Impatient
  • Content
  • Annoyed
  • Silly
  • You might feel... anxious
Anxiety. It is the monkey who has recently hitched a free ride on my back. I have not visited the zoo or the tropics of late, so I am not certain from where he came. He was uninvited, and he smells. He's been sleeping in my bed and spitting in my morning oatmeal. He has been grinding his dirty little thumbs into the stiff parts of my neck. I offered him my over-ripe bananas to see if he might leave me alone, but he said, "No. Bugging you is too much fun."

In the city where I live, the buses pretend to not see you and every person is one step away from an exasperated eye roll and an "f-you for cutting me off in traffic!" Sometimes I drive home from work and just grip the steering wheel in hopes that I will make it to my narrow alley parking space in one piece. Then, once parked, I sit in my car, gathering up the energy it takes to bag-lady it into my apartment carrying laptop, purse, groceries, gym bag, or the high heels that I gave up wearing half way through the work day.

I look to my friends for guidance, commiseration, and support, but perhaps they too have smelly monkeys on their backs – boyfriends, bosses, and bills that dig claws into those penetrable, fleshy vulnerable parts that go unprotected. I sometimes reach out, and I am reaching and reaching for a familiar calloused hand, only to find that hand occupied with tools and other torments that make it impossible for my palm to grasp it.

Tonight was a breaking point. I caved on my diet and drove through the McDonalds drive through. I drove past my beautiful co-worker, perched on her bicycle with a look of confident purpose, and I slouched down in my seat with hopes that she would not recognize the french fries and Big Mac that was stuffed into my squirrel-puffed cheeks.

Why I ask myself. Why can she do it and why can't I? I tell myself if only I got out and exercised, if only I took that meditation class, if only I created some artwork or saved some starving orphans in Africa. If only.

If only, If only... If only I were better.

I make it to my parking space in a cloud of secrecy and relief. I mumble simple instructions out loud to myself, being the encouraging voice to get me through the tiresome threshold of transferring sh*it from automobile to place of solo dwelling. "Keys out of ignition, cell phone into purse, laptop bag goes on left shoulder, purse goes on right, lunch bag into left hand, books into right hand, put the proper key into the building door..."

I wearily shuffle down the hall to my basement apartment and I lock the door behind me. No one can find me here. No one knows that I am going to quietly eat the remainder of my cold Big Mac and watch my Netflix movie on a lovely summer Friday evening. No one will know.

I watch my movie. It is about China, cholera, and complicated love in the 1920's (The Painted Veil). The movie makes me cry. I empathize with Naomi Watts' character, who is lost, and disappointed with the ugly truths that come with growing into a faulty marriage. I keep crying and it seems to be a good idea so I just keep going, depleting my fuzzy roll of toilet paper as I repeatedly blow my nose. I never remember to buy Kleenex.

I decide to make myself a pathetic drink as I never seem to have beer or wine when I need it. The beverage I concoct is Crystal Light fruit punch with a modest splash of Bombay Sapphire Gin. I decide to go sit on my stoop and smoke a cigarette. (Yes, I smoke, occasionally. It's especially good for times like this.)

Outside, it is dusk and the neighbors across the street are enjoying a friendly cookout. I sit on my stoop and absent-mindedly look up. The trees are gently swaying in the cooling night air. The weather is supposed to get rainy and chilly by tomorrow morning, and I internally nod my approval. Sometimes, when life doesn't feel so in order, sunny days are happy for everyone else but me.

I watch the strange pattern of the ginkgo leaves, and they make a soothing sound in the breeze. It is like a "Shhh" sound and it comforts me. Soon, my cocktail has taken the edge off the tail end of my anxious, girly cry. I remember that it is healthy to have a good cry sometimes, and I lax off on the worry that I might be plagued with chronic anxiety for the entirety of this complicated life.
"No, Shhh, shhhh, say the trees. You are just being human, which means, perfectly imperfect. Shhhhh, shhhh, quiet down now, and appreciate being alive. We do, and you should too."

Okay, Trees. Perhaps you are right.

Shhh, shhh, Little Monkey, shhh your little mouth shut.

1 comment:

  1. susurrus.

    that's the name for the sounds the tree leaves make...

    gregory told me this.