This evening I got home from work and spent an hour attending to household administration, and then packed up my laundry and wheeled it down to the laundromat that I frequent. I swear I will feel like an actual grown up when I have my own washer and dryer somewhere. During laundry, I shared dinner with a friend who I haven’t seen in a little while, but then I was left alone. Utterly alone, at night, in a deserted Laundromat devoid of people and whirring machines. Even the too-loud television was turned off for the night. Laundry is such an incredibly domestic chore, and one I’ve always rather enjoyed, but tonight it made me incredibly uneasy. As I folded my laundry, I began to think…
When something is stained, really stained, it becomes an embarrassment. We pre-soak. We spray. We spend an extra .75 on that oxy stuff that’s supposed to remove even the toughest, ground in whatever. All of these efforts will surely make the stain fade, but it’s obviously still visible. Your whites will never get whiter again sometimes.
So then what? You can toss the offending article out, but it’s still perfectly usable! That sweater will still keep you warm. Those socks will still make your feet toasty. That bed will still provide the deepest, sweetest slumber. But who can see past that unsightly mark? Who can appreciate the inherent worth of an article without getting completely hung up on what the stain might have been caused by? Is it mustard? Rust? Grass? Mud? Blood?
No late-night infomercial gimmick will work. No Martha-Stewart, Haley’s Handy Hints, Aunt Bea’s secret solution will lift and remove. No cold bucket of water, no sea salt, no club soda will make this mark go away. It will fade, and in the right light you will hardly ever see it, but when the sun shines a certain way, or you approach it from a certain angle, there it will be.
The question is, do you throw it out, or do you decide that you love it for its character?
My head is so full, but my lips are perfectly sealed. I’m amazed to discover that I can, at will, completely shut off my heart. It’s extraordinary and terrifying. It’s like watching someone else live my life with utter, cold, detachment. I feel like I am my own Victorian chaperon; one icy hand on my own shoulder to steer me away from temptation and heartache. In the past, it was only under extreme emotional duress that I have been able to feel such vacancy.
But when I am alone with my thoughts, I am mostly afraid, and that fear is now spilling into my dreams, which until now I’ve been unable to remember upon waking in the morning.
My heart is flickering to life like a camping lantern that needs stronger batteries. Can you feel it? I used to slip so effortlessly into abandon, falling so far, so fast. Uttering aloud each moment and each discovery. Now, I am keeping these things so close. Now these words can’t find their way to my lips. They dissolve in pools of awkward uncertainty, and I wonder how I must come across…
Your kindness comes as naturally as breathing, and if I think too much about what an effect it has had on me, I feel that terrifying lump that means I’ve opened these doors too wide. To even try to write this feels strained, and I hesitate to hit the “publish” button.
I can give my heart freely to my friends and my family. For them my love knows now bounds and I openly express my affection and joy each time they make my heart swell.
Anything beyond this feels like alien territory. It’s been so easy to offer up various other parts of myself in these last few months, but now I feel like Bambi on the skating pond.
Limbs akimbo, here I go.