I woke up this morning feeling glum, much like during the waning seconds of the tail end of my final lacrosse game in high school, where I stared from the sidelines as our team lost well aware that it was completely beyond my ability to do anything about it. It wasn’t an oppressive glumness, but a light and malleable one punctuated by a slight distaste for Zoe, who had spent the wee hours of the morn pawing at me as I attempted to hide from the world beneath my comforter. I rolled out of bed, accidentally and haphazardly flinging Zoe off the bed, and I was immediately chill in the cool morning air that had leaked into my room over the course of the night.
My ankle cracked loudly with each step as I traversed our dim stairwell and emerged in our living room. I thought it was just a sprain, but two plus weeks later I can’t help but posit that something worse may have happened, like the time I got clotheslined by the parallel bars and may have broken my nose but went back to play with just a band-aid and a thirst for more tag—I’ll never know if I broke my nose as it’s long since healed.
The coffee machine bubbled, the thick wafting smell of the hot and bitter concoction bringing back memories of deep seeded disgust at my parents’ coffee habit as a child. I always promised myself I would never be that person who swears when he’s young he’ll never do something, then becomes the hypocrite when proven wrong; I promised myself that beyond that promise, I wouldn’t make an absolute vow, not that I actually followed through with it, making it just like every other absolute vow I made.
My hands shook as I gripped the mug, though I couldn’t say for sure if it was the cold that caused them to quake or the glumness or the pent-up tension of the day before, when everything was fine and yet it wasn’t in that utterly and persistently goading way, like the gods pushing my buttons just enough to make me mad but not enough to make me believe that I’m not still leading a charmed life. I counted my blessings as I sipped the dark steaming liquid, reminding myself that I found a job, that I scored well on my tests, that I still have more than enough money to live, and that I have good friends, though I embarrassingly forgot a friend’s birthday party last week due to lackluster incompetence and the strange and oppressive fog of the Halloween weekend—something for which I am wracked with guilt over.
“You can’t put sitting around watching Sportscenter on your resume,” my friend Jon told me the other day, referring to his own son but mirroring my own ennui-filled mornings. My daily routine reminds me of boarding school and sleep-away camp, where I’d wake in the wee hours, run around like a chicken with its head still on but not yet awake, and then retreat to the common room couches to watch endless reruns of sports highlights until my day was thrust upon me by a higher power—namely a counselor, teacher or fellow camper or student. When I finally flipped the TV on, I was already disgusted with the programming, the ads, the lack of significance, all of which was merely a cover for my disgust with myself.
Tomorrow, I will be productive, I told myself, knowing full well that no matter how much I get done, it won’t be enough. Tomorrow, I’ll run, and swim, and tote bales of hay, and turn in paperwork, and work on applications, and visit friends, and get shit done, I thought, my list of tasks both daunting and meager, like an encounter with Jesus in his prime, his humility humbling and his power awesome, assuming, of course, the parables aren’t parables but an unlikely and unexplainable truth.
My coffee gone, I loped back to my room to collect a sweatshirt, the chill permeating me as if I were merely cloth bathed in icy water and hung to dry in the wind. My entire body ached and creaked, as if that costume making me appear ancient rendition of myself were real only in the way I look, the makeup washing away while the silty residue of aches and pains remained beneath the surface. I felt a craving for that physical release I’ve only felt once before, when it took a lot of effort from a very large Turkish man who laughed with his coworker as he stood there panting after he finally cracked my back. I never knew what they said, but I didn’t care; I had never felt so loose, so relaxed, or so clean.
I tried to diagnose my sudden distaste, but my Freudian and Jungian ideals found themselves at odds and started a war that left my mind a barren wasteland of Oedipal jokes and collectible collective consciousness card games, the Pokemon of psychological world. I started wondering if you could create a collectible card game based on VD, but ultimately I decided that it’s a bad topic for which to scream, “I gotta catch ’em all!”
“What?” my roommate cried from the basement in response to my inane psychobabble actually vocalized as insane psycho babble.
“Nothing,” I called back, my train of thought thankfully derailed as if a car had pulled onto the tracks. It’s embarrassing enough to be me without my inner quirks appearing on the surface like boils and rashes on a newly infected zombie, my disease apparent well before I can properly feed, which is simply a stupid mechanism on the part of the people who designed the virus.
Maybe I have Seasonal Affective Disorder, I pondered, knowing full well that I have no such issue, unless you count the depression that hits me whenever the baseball season comes to a close, and by coming to a close I mean when the Red Sox and Rockies are eliminated from the playoffs.
Then again, maybe I just need to smile…
I smiled, and everything felt just a little bit better.