I slept late because I knew that I needed the rest, and I took a long shower because I didn't feel like rushing off to work. I let my tea steep for a long, long time. I held my arms over the stovetop because my skin likes the feel of warm air. In our cabinet we have a big plastic sack of bulk imitation Lucky Charms, and I sat down to eat a bowl, wearing only a towel. There wasn't much milk left in the jug. Every day for lunch I pack a peanut butter and jelly sandwich with wheat bread, some cookies, a plum, yogurt, and a plastic spoon. I was heading toward the door when I remembered the bowl of hard-boiled eggs on the top shelf of the fridge. I took one, for an extra dose of protein and cholesterol. Eggs are funny because they look exactly the same before and after you cook them.
I hit nothing but green lights, so I arrived at work partially hypnotized.
I had nearly completed assembling my enormous document, and the possibility that the end of this project could mean the sudden conclusion of my employment worried me. I sat down at my desk and started casually spooling pages to my printer.
Joan came over and handed me a photograph she had taken last week of me seated in my darkened corner of the office. The photograph was a gift. A student came to see Mike, my boss, the executive director. She fumbled over her words, explaining that she had recently lost her unborn daughter and needed to withdraw from school. Tina emerged from her office and gave the girl a hug. Tina had a miscarriage six months ago. The girl cried. My coffee was cold and bitter, but I drank it anyway.
The copy machine made copies very quickly, and I enjoyed watching it. An attractive girl whose name I never learned came in to use the phone. She wore burgundy medical scrubs and was thinking out loud, flipping through the yellow pages, preoccupied with a dog that she thought might have a viral infection. I realized that she must be an assistant instructor for the veterinary program, not a student. I had never seen a person become so emotional over an animal they didn't know personally. She was determined to find an animal hospital that didn't need cash payment to test the dog. The noise of the copy machine made it hard for her to hear. Tall stacks of documents were reproduced perfectly and piled in sequence. The back of her neck caught my attention and held it until I left the room.
Joan received a phone call and learned that her son may have cancer. Either way, he will need surgery. I looked at the photograph, my new gift. In Mike's office, I watched as Tina, Roy, and Mike struggled to work out this
year's budget. This administrative red tape detracts from their real
jobs--helping people better themselves through a quality practical
education. I finished my photocopying and ate my sandwich. Sue hovered
over me, trying to figure out how she was going to fit all of her stuff
into my small corner once she moved out of her cubicle to make room for
another admissions rep. Tonya discovered a serious problem with the
bookkeeping. Joan went home, crying. I couldn't even concentrate on my
game of FreeCell. We all helped passing students with their problems and
questions, sincerely and politely. I slowly became aware of how much I
cared about my co-workers, because of what they cared about. Mike told me
to head home for the night. The interior of my car had been collecting sun
all day, and I drove carefully and deliberately, surrounded by warm air,
gently spooning peach yogurt into my lips. I felt like I was
eating baby food. It was hard to understand the lyrics of The Sunny Day
Real Estate song playing, but I made out the words "too blind to
I drove to the park with
Joshua, and we stood and sat and laid back on picnic tables. The
blackbirds in the surrounding pecan trees had tiny red wings. We told
funny stories. The birds made spacey sounds, and the sounds were
everywhere. We walked and found a fenced in area where dogs ran leashless,
excited to play with other people and other dogs. I've never owned a dog.
Twenty-four hours passed, and
I decided to write down descriptions of these events. But my mood is
different now, and my words don't spell out the serene sense of wonder,
the deep overglow, that feeling of being a part of something large in a
pale orange hue that infused nearly every moment of yesterday. It's so
easy to forget all of the places I have been, the people I have seen, and
the feelings that have overtaken me while I sat, still, unaware.