Almost the Same Thing
You stumble coming off a curb on the way into a bad, bad day in a bad, bad year in a life you’re not supposed to equate with its smaller parts, and the drop in your gut, the adrenaline of it, surprises you more than the pop you feel more than hear. And you are down, that’s the only word for it, you are down and people are hovering and you notice you have dented your water bottle, your favorite one.
Which sucks, you know, because it’s impossible to get dents out of those damn things and now every time you look at it you will see that dent and hate it. Hate it. Just another thing in your day to despise and carry around anyway because it still works. It works. And who goes around throwing away things that work just because they’re not quite right anymore? Just because you don’t love them entirely?
On the sidewalk so hot it starts to burn your hands, so hot dogs’ paws blister and peel, you shake off the strangers and you stand using the other leg. The leg with the ankle that still feels like yours. The strangers murmur about doctors and ambulances but you hop to your car and unlock it quick, slamming the door behind you. See? You are fine. So fine, you have the strength to shut the door and brush off your pink palms on the thigh of your pants and start the car, too. You don’t need a doctor, not when you’re late for work.
Work that eats your day from both ends, the commute and the getting ready and the decompressing erasing any time at all you have to figure out what you want or who you are. But, it pays fine and you get good health insurance and every paycheck you put money into a retirement fund you won’t see the benefits of for an entire lifetime of this. Everyone makes it sound so worth it as they slice their retirement cake. That's what you are holding out for.
Who cares if passion doesn’t enter into the equation? You aren’t even sure it is a real thing at this point. That it isn't just something people say to make themselves feel better about this being what life feels like. Besides, you have to go, to do something, or what does that make you?
You drive with your left foot and pull into a parking space the furthest from the door because you are fine and nothing is wrong. If something was broken, you wouldn’t be parking there, would you? Everyone would agree.
You make it inside, panting and trying to hide it, and your boss says you should go home but you pretend you don’t hear it. You have work to do, emails you owe, deliverables. You work until five and then work five minutes more as proof that you are fine. Then, you drive home the same way you came and get the mail and do your dishes and watch tv while thinking about how you should work out and how behind you feel on everything. Books you should be reading, friends you should have. Deeper than that, even, the sense you are behind at life, which makes no sense because there are no milestones anymore. There is just this day, over and over again. Just this day.
Somehow, still, you stay up too late and crawl into bed and finally look down to see your ankle swollen and hot and no longer yours because the things that are yours you can feel and you can’t feel that part of you anymore. And in the morning, you get ready and drive to work and coworkers whisper about you as you hop past them but you are fine.
You don’t need a doctor or an X-ray. You know, deep down, the reason you don’t want one. The same reason you show up to this job every day and lay on your couch dreaming of another life at home: prodding at that wound, diagnosing it, just getting up on that table, would make it real. Crutches and a cast and the plea for help that comes with showing up at the reception desk and signing your name. Would mean something is broken in you that shouldn’t be. That not everyone feels this way.
So you go home and go to work and everything is normal. It is fine. And you know, one day, weeks or months or years from now, you will forget what it felt like to walk on both legs, forget completely, and that, you know, is almost the same thing as healing.