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Fog Fear

Fog freeze

Fog freeze

Fog has coalesced out of night’s desert. Wednesday night was a good night: leaving the new job in the ever-slightly-earlier dusk, home at a decent time, a comfortable evening with the kitten, an omelet and a friend’s call. Comfortable is strange to hold in the consciousness: still, but with inner wriggling. It’s gone Thursday morning, wiped out by no sleep.

I’ve gone for walks the past two nights. Even in the dark they’re refreshing: no rain, no clouds, the Seattle winter murk replaced with a sky open all the way to space. Stars float just beyond the power lines and the city’s spread is open to eternity. I’m reminded of walks in the Reno desert, but this feels so much better, even with all the change and petty upheaval. Graduate school was so much more lonely and lost.

Graduate school was twenty years ago. I only realize that writing this. January 1993 I packed up my things and, at last, left my parents’ house for on-campus housing at the University of Reno. I remember the rare winter that came that year, storm and ice warnings on the radio as I drove west, into the dark. I was afraid. It was the same fear as the fall of 1987, when the drive was only twenty minutes to college. College had been made so vast in my mind I knew I would, at last, fail there. My foot shook so severely I could hardy keep it on the accelerator. That first semester was afternoons in the library and realizing two years of high school chemistry had done very little to prepare me for the first college semester class. But chemistry was the only challenge and I walked away from it, opting for an easier science later. Later, I became angry and seethed at how podunk and easy college was. Whose fault was that?

Thursday now is all ground glass packed tight in my head. I had a good night and got to bed early, but didn’t sleep. Why did I not sleep? Where does all this fear come from? I take the bus, barely awake. At my desk I feel the moth paper of the world.

Everyone has some two-headed uncle in their subconscious. He comes out when we are least able to deal with him, asking for ice cream or where you got your clothes. I see the world full of confident, commanding people far stronger and more together than I have ever been: yes, no, Tuesday. We shall do this. Here is just the thing. Isn’t it true, this illusion of adult omniscience, everyone but you on top of things?

On a New Year’s Eve walk, a friend suggested I overestimate a normal person’s wherewithal. Or that I have post-traumatic stress. Or I am not critical enough about movies. Maybe we have all thoughtlessly internalized cartoon heroes leaping through plate glass and securing the package just in time.

Everything is tough and I have nothing to complain about. The heat is on and I have a clean, well-lighted place to go. My feast is movable. It is much, much better than it has been, but here remains a persistent sense that everything, somehow, will go wrong. People laugh about Murphy’s Law, but it’s not funny in the middle of it.

As you would predict, Thursday ends without incident. The socked-in fog that has replaced the days of stunning clarity persists and the bus rumbles through gloom. On platforms it is very cold and everyone moves quickly. Look how they know where to go! There are no lost here. That night I have yoga, skipped last week. Twisting like a pretzel is what I need, and stumble home as if drunk, barely able to shower, falling into bed.

Friday is better, so much better. I figure out something at work, not quite the level of a thing I figured out Tuesday, but something real enough to take a note. Remembering something about the Microsoft machine makes me remember something else, and I solve another little thing. It seems calmer, freezing fog socking in the windows. I stayed late earlier and can go earlier. I get paid. I am so, so tired, but released.

Nothing changed to make it better, aside from decent sleep. Did an earlier talk about how contracts work and what’s the worst that can happen finally register with the deepest subconscious? Is it brute familiarity? Or just momentum–not from a full stop, but diverted from a different path I was on. But it is better. I go for a walk in the fog, past the elementary school with its glowing LED sign: NO SCHOOL MONDAY! The word is socked-in, quiet, still.

Fog punched through

Fog punched through

When I paused writing this on this Friday morning, I said to the cat: “Well, that’s it. Time for school.” Sometimes, I wonder who I am, and where.


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