I went to the store after work. I knew I needed to get out of the house. I can’t remember the last time I left. Oh yeah, I ran up to the garden center 8 days ago to get compost. I’ve been in this house ever since. Being at home day after day without much interaction with the world has an insidious way of takings its toll on a person’s mental health.
So I’m walking to my car that sits in the driveway and I realize this trip to the store will be more than just picking up the one item I need. I tell myself I’m just grabbing that one thing then coming back home. But also I knew I would linger longer because I knew once inside the store, roaming the aisles that exist outside of this house I would feel, for a moment, a slight easing of this weight that has lay on me all day. Shit, it’s been here for 132 days. I’ve just grown used to it like an odorous air that blends into the background. This odorous air lay heavily on me all day, except today it didn’t blend into the background. I could feel it all fucking day. It hit me while sitting in the dentist’s chair this morning having my tooth grinded (is that a word?) down for a crown. Well, actually it hit me when he brought out that monstrously long needle and pushed it into my gums. That’s when the weight suddenly rose up and said “hey you. Are you fucking ignoring me. Because I’m right here and I’m not going away”. And I could feel the tears running down my cheeks even though I wasn’t sobbing. Just those fucking tears and I couldn’t stop them, not even for that long needle pushing into my gums.
I’ve known my dentist for a while. He’s a rather eccentric, cool cat leftover from a time when dentist took time to know their patients. He has his own little airplane that he travels in to pick up sculptures which now decorate the courtyard that is visible from all of the three chairs in his office. He doesn’t subscribe to modern day notions of perfectly white shiny teeth. He’s more of a “be comfortable with who you are and fuck everybody else” kind of person. It’s a quality I rather like. Turns out he suffered the same kind of loss four years ago. His son killed himself. So he knew. He didn’t try to tell me it would be okay. He didn’t ignore my tears but he also didn’t make a big fuss which was exactly the perfect response. He acknowledged their presence, offered a more comfortable position, then continued with the drills and the tugging and unpleasantries one must endure in the name of dental health. The whole time I couldn’t stop the tears from running down my damn face. That was the beginning of my day and I never fully recovered.
Work was a hot mess. I produced almost exactly half of the work required. I couldn’t get my head in the game and then it was time to log off so I did. Normally I would be worried. Today I am not. To me, the fact that I stayed and tried to work is a win. I’m not sure what anyone else thinks. Perhaps I should. But that’s not the point. The point is that, I finished just as my nifty little enneagram class was starting and I just couldn’t find anything extra, not even one little sliver, to make me open my laptop and click the link to log into the class. So I didn’t. Instead I went to the grocery store and that brings us back to the porch.
Every fucking thing on the way there reminded me of him. The car that followed too close would have pissed him off and, based on his reaction, I would have known what kind of day he was having. Finding a spot closest to the doors would have eased his anxiety just enough so he could walk inside. He would have grabbed a cart, stopped to grab the coffee I like, maybe some brie. A sign for sushi. He never had sushi until he met me. He would have wanted to get some while we were there. The wine. I couldn’t drink port after he quit drinking because, besides beer, that was his only other alcohol weakness. Today, for the first time in years, I grabbed a bottle of Dow’s tawny 10-year, still feeling like it was the wrong thing to do. But I did anyway because that’s what you do when you’re trying to remember that someone once living is now dead. He walked so slow when we went to the store. Now I know why because I did it too in those very early days when I tried a few times to make myself shop. I found myself so overwhelmed that I could barely move. I’m guessing that’s how he felt. Then slowly the sounds and the people watching distracted me enough so that every little thing didn’t remind me of something about him. And then I was home.
Working after tragedy leaves no extra room for things like classes or thinking or feeling emotions, so they come out all cock-eyed and stupid at inopportune moments like when you’re sitting in the dentist’s chair. I can’t decide if this is good or bad or absolutely fucking indifferent. I don’t even know that it matters because a girl must work. I know that spending my days getting lost in the garden or wrapped up in these words left me feeling much more balanced and grounded and emotionally intact. So what is the solution? Fucking push it all aside and get my shit together. That’s the solution. Good luck.