I used to love having fresh yogurt with honey and raspberries. It’s so rich and creamy and refreshing. And to top it off, it feels so healthy but tastes like dessert. I don’t eat anything like that anymore – certainly not any fresh fruit. Not since everything changed. I miss it. I miss a lot of things like that. You don’t even realize how good you have it until the world has been turned upside down on itself.
This morning I woke up early and sat out on the porch staring at the car lights going by on the highway in the dark, crisp night. I made some coffee but never bothered getting up to go in and pour myself a cup once it finished brewing. I just don’t sleep like I used to anymore. I mean, I usually crash around midnight and sleep like a log until around 3:00 or 4:00, so that’s good, but I don’t exactly wake up feeling rested either. I guess it doesn’t really matter since I usually just float through the day anyway, but at the same time I’d rather pass more of the time unaware rather than during waking hours like a zombie.
I eventually started getting ready for work around 6:00 and made it to work early. Sometimes I really love the monotony of the workday. It can be so refreshing to just do the same thing over and over and over. And I do really love the printing press. The same ‘cathunk’ noise over and over and over as the pages spit out on the other side so crisp and with the look of a personal touch. It is actually quite romantic to use something so ancient, so outdated that it has become a thing of art. I love checking each page to make sure that it came out straight and clean. There is something of the texture of a pressed page that I just can’t put my finger on, but I think it has to do with the way that it bends the paper ever so slightly and gives it some structure; kind of like putting the poles into a tent. It’s amazing to me that someone could have invented something so complicated so long ago. I’d never be able to create the idea of a press today, even with all the available technology and knowledge I have. I love that they let me keep long, regular hours and that no one really bothers me all day while I run the press. Sometimes, I’m the only one in there, spending late afternoons finishing out a print job on a deadline. We just printed up some lovely wedding invitations last week. I remember those days of planning and ogling over dresses and engagement rings and flowers. So much life and passion and happiness.
I don’t really go to weddings anymore. It’s not that I don’t like them. I actually love weddings and all the ideas behind them. It’s just that I can’t seem to be outwardly happy for the couple anymore and it feels like I’m projecting an image of myself that isn’t real. I still send notes of encouragement and nice gifts and wishes for eternal happiness and the like. It’s just easier to feel like you mean it in a letter than in person sometimes. Voice tone means everything with that kind of thing and the last thing I want is to sound insincere. Anyway, the invitations were so beautiful … just like something I would have picked out. They had a simple, elegant design and it was an evening wedding at a small church. It can be refreshing to see something like that when we do so many street posters and advertisements.
This afternoon at work I had one of those moments where you just can’t hold it anymore. I went to the bathroom and lay on the floor and cried for a while. I do hate being away from my workstation for very long, but at the same time, I know that I work plenty hard and get more done than anyone else anyway, so I don’t think it’s a huge deal. I just sat in there for a while until I felt like myself again. Or, rather until I felt like someone else who could be seen in public without being asked if ‘everything is okay’. I know people mean well and all, but everything isn’t okay and it’s never going to be so I can either lie and say it’s fine or I can be honest, at which point people usually feel bad and worried and I don’t want that either.
It has been four years since it all happened. Four long, dark years. I know people said that these things just took time, but somehow I thought they meant like a year or two. It is starting to seem like the ‘me’ before it happened never existed. That she’s some fantasy I made up like a childhood dream. Or, it at least seems that the ‘new’ me if you can call it that has been around longer than the ‘old’ me. I’m starting to lose hope that that I’ll ever be like the old me again. That I’m just stuck like this forever.
And I still can’t get the picture out of my mind. It’s like I have no idea what happened. Why me? Holy cow, I just remembered I never turned off the coffee pot. The hot plate has been on all day. Well, it’s probably fine – I mean, I’ve left it on before, right. Gosh, I hate being a worrier. I never used to worry or care about anything and then in a blink of an eye, I just turned into a basket case. Sheesh, I’m gonna have to ride over there and check it out before I can concentrate on anything. Well, I never took a lunch break and it’ll only take 20 minutes anyway.
Holly ran outside and pedaled her bike the six blocks to the house. When she got there, all that was left was a big heap of black ash. Her landlord was standing next to a big orange firetruck talking to one of the firemen. Holly just stood there staring at the remains of her house, too stunned to move or breathe or say anything.