Friday, June 30, 2017

Realizations


After nearly a year of feeling braindead, I've gone through about one week of using my brain more and now it's time to take a pause and figure some things out. I've been doing a lot of thinking today. I've been thinking about thinking. That sounds like something my dad used to say. Anyway, as always, I'm here tippy tapping on the ole' keyboard in an effort to try and work some things out. And, like always, I want to work it out with You.

Where to begin. I think it was sometime between a customer complaining that I didn't know enough about Dior products and another customer baffled why I did not know where the West entrance was when I took a fifteen minute break to go outside. I needed to clear my mind because it was getting too crowded by customers. 

Working in retail requires a teflon shield against some ugly shit - if you're feeling tired and introverted like I was today, people can just really start to grind on you and you just have to take it because you are not allowed to walk away. There is no surfing the Internet to clear your head and you even need to let others know when you need to go to the bathroom because then your counter has no one there to help the customers. So I told a coworker I needed to take my fifteen minute break and I went outside. 

I stared at a brick wall for the entire time.

As I sat there, staring at that one brick, I felt something churning. Like my neurons were gearing up for a fight. My mind started to do a few somersaults. 

The first thing I thought was...
What the fuck am I doing? Like, what on earth am I doing here, at a mall, on a 15 minute break, from my hourly job...A 36-year-old woman with an expensive college degree? A woman who used to make an awesome salary and made presentations to c-suite executives? A woman who used to fly first class on airplanes?

But then my next thought was...
Haven't I felt like this before when working on a PowerPoint in the middle of the night from the 21st floor of a downtown Chicago Lake Shore Drive apartment overlooking Lake Michigan? Didn't that sometimes feel pointless too? Or when my flights got bumpy over some foreign ocean and I was feeling like if the plane went down it would be a stupid shame? Wasn't the rockstar life hard, too?

And then I wondered...
Wouldn't I also be feeling like crap if I had a baby who wouldn't sleep and I had mastitis and I felt like I had lost my identity because I hadn't showered in five days and my husband was annoying me? 

And, also...
Wouldn't I feel like an empty shell if I were a musician constantly on the road and all of my songs started sounding blasé? Or if I were a professional writer and my second book wasn't selling as well as the first? Or if I were an astronaut on Mars and the crew was being passive aggressive? 

Wait...
What do I even want from my life, anyway?...

Time's up! 

My 15 minutes was up and it was time to rush back inside so I could start closing the registers. As I started closing a register, I was counting pennies and I couldn't concentrate. I am usually able to count the change really fast (you do it by throwing two coins into the drawer at a time), but this time I could feel ERROR messages going off in my mind and I knew I was off my coin-counting game.

On my drive home, I kept the radio off so that I would have my full attention on the road. My head was still churning, searching, trying to locate some far off honing beacon. Once home, I did the weirdest thing. Or, it was totally normal, but it just felt weird. I started looking at facebook on my phone, and I kept scrolling and scrolling through the newsfeed, waiting and wanting to find status updates of people announcing big things. Good things, bad things, I didn't care, I just wanted there to be something BIG. Despite one girl announcing that she and her husband were expecting a baby, I saw nothing of significance. No big announcements, no births, no deaths...not even one of those "I'M ONE MONTH OLD TODAY!" photos. Just...stuff. Stuff, stuff, stuff. People, things, food, advertisements, politics, Ooo - one story of an airplane that shook for two hours with a technical error - but, even that was kind of meh after watching the cell phone video footage. 

I didn't know what I was looking for. So I just kept scrolling, and scrolling, trying to find it. Maybe I needed some affirmation about life, some evidence that there is something bigger out there. But even on the airplane footage, I started reading the comments, and people were arguing about whether or not it was appropriate for the pilot to have asked the passengers to pray. 

So, what was the point? I've lost my point. I must be tired. I keep forgetting the point of this essay. I was originally just going to write in my journal but typing and publishing to the entire world felt easier. 

I do remember one thing, though. Today I was missing my middle nephew, Max, so I spontaneously drove to see him (and his siblings). When I got to my brother's house, Max was trying to trim flowers with a can opener. He's three. I went over and sat beside him on the steps. I told him I had been missing him, and asked if I could snuggle him. He obligingly crawled into my lap, and I nuzzled my nose into his sandy brown hair which was warm from the sun and smelled clean and dirty at the same time, like a boy playing outside in the middle of summer.

I felt an instant of connection, of appreciation, of being a big human cuddling a littler human. It was such a familiar and yet novel feeling. It made my cheeks tingle.

I'm not ending this post saying life is all about Love

But I am saying that, hey, I think I am feeling a little bit better. About life. Whether it is counting pennies behind a cash register or flying 30,000 feet above the ocean in business class. I always do feel better after I write. I hope you feel better, too, after reading. These realizations keep coming and going, like fireflies in the night. 

Goodnight,
Susan




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