Three days at work have elicited no panic attacks, fretful glances, bladder indecision or any histrionics of any kind. It is the same white vague New International style corporate building, surrounded by the same picturesque Northwest foliage, lost in a sea of suburban roads and taillights. The same halls turn the same corners where the same doors make the same sounds and the same coffee machines make the same robot clanking. The place is deserted except when it is full of people, and then they all walk too quickly and talk too loudly. I have no badge and must be let into the building by my boss like a kid in elementary school, and I have no way to log in to the network. The work I had thought I would be doing may be very different in the technical nitty gritty and I have been reading up, remembering.
I am replacing someone who is not happy about it. “Welcome to hell,” he greeted me on Monday. I decide it’s best not to talk to him.
Is it too soon to have come back nearly two weeks after I was to have returned? A tense echo rings in silence as everything is in its remembered place, still functioning and solid. I stand in corners I had utterly forgotten, walk halfway across a skybridge where the phone will work without thinking. I stood in that corner and talked to my old college friend for an hour one dragging Sunday waiting for the machines to finish; I stood in that courtyard where the smokers still huddle under awnings and talked and worried and let distant phone voices help me see what I needed to see. Solidity does not assure so much as amaze: there are things in this life that persist. The trouble comes when persistence occludes the present.
Anxiety, or something like it, has sniffed around, looking, deciding if there is a place for it. Things have a brittle desperation and minutes flicker away. It’s not bad, not desperate, not the feeling of wanting to talk to my mom when the last person I want to talk to is my mom. But I am back where I was. Does this mean I never went anywhere?
Last night was the second session of an improv class. Negative is not allowed. Expand on dumb ideas, which cannot be dumb because there is no judgement. No one tries to be funny and in a couple hours everyone is funny. Afterwards Seattle Center is calm, bright, heart of city. Driving is fast at night, and the cat wants to eat and there is someone to talk to at home. It feels like college. It feels like I have moved.
Today things were more solid, though nothing had changed, not really. People talk and move and I figure things out. There is a way forward; people have known things we did not. The guy from the bank calls to say the mortgage was approved. Yes, and I can have my own place; yes, and I will be closer to some friends; yes, and I will be nearer to The City. There are things to do and I feel like they can be done.
Fred Meyer is the store to go to because Fred Meyer has day-old bakery. Along with whole wheat roles is what I question and then decide on: chocolate cake. Cosby says it’s nutrition, and so it is–chocolate nutrition for the sugar center. Nobody needs chocolate cake and everyone needs chocolate cake–it’s why they sell them. I get spinach too. It all evens out.
When I eat the cake, it is all the cakes I wanted and gave up or ignored or didn’t have. The cat sniffs an offered forkful and looks at me like I am crazy, but I know what the truth of good is.