The sight, the wandering mind, the breath between wakefulness and dreams is infinite. I notice the space between two people dancing is closing. The night doesn’t hinder me. I walk on to the next block. Following the paved road, I question whether will has the room to exist in the safety of community. If I step off of the fitted stones and press my soft shoe into the mud my mind will mimic the sensation I had as a child toeing barefoot through a warm summer’s riverbed. Did I have will then or was it simply my mother’s loosing hand that pushed me into new experience, new synapses. Do I have a son or does the world?
I often spend nights sitting or lying in bed with the lights off while the night turns on for everyone else. What are they thinking? Are they thinking about me? I’ve caught myself again. I think of how often I catch myself thinking about myself and wondering if anyone else thinks about themselves just as much. I yawn and the cold night air breezing in from the warped sill stings my lungs. I have to work tomorrow, I shouldn’t have walked all the way to the bridge tonight.
The lights are bitter in the office this morning. They yearn to be outshone by sunlight, but windows are less energy efficient than mortar and plaster and the minimization of overhead comes above all. Sandy walks by my desk on her way to the coffee pot. I don’t know the last time that pot was cleaned. My mom always said to run vinegar through it once every few weeks. The thought of vinegar and morbid lighting repels my desire for warm ceramic. I nod as she walks by, her mouth smiles, but her eyes don’t squint.
“Good morning” I say.
“Good morning to you. Coffee will be done in a few minutes. Ugh, I can’t do anything until I get that first cup, you know.”
I shrug, but I meant to laugh without smiling. She throws up her hands in a surprising display of anxiety and shakes her head as though what she has just said is so utterly relevant that I can’t help but remain speechless. It is a force of will to repeat conversations every morning. It’s like that strange moment when you’re not sure whether or not you have asked someone something and you ask them again all the while waiting to be called out for being such a repetitive fool. Her soft shoes make almost no sound on the thin carpet as she walks on.
Here comes Corey. He’ll ask about the game last night and I’ll fain knowledge. It’s important to keep up work relationships.
“We were so robbed last night! Can you believe that shit?”
“Oh man, I know! No, I can’t believe it.”
“Well, at least we pulled through in the end.”
“Yeah, I could’ve lost my lunch money!” We pretend to laugh, although, maybe he isn’t pretending. I don’t know him very well, seems nice enough, if not starved for attention. He has a huge belly that strains every white button on his polo and graying, thinning hair—the effect of the nearly constant warring at home, I’m sure. He and his wife once came to an office Christmas party, drinks in hand. Apparently, he didn’t take into consideration that her shoes were quite uncomfortable, which she had mentioned repeatedly on the way over, and stated that parking so far away was a metaphor for his secret and passive anger towards her. Everyone could hear their conversation tunneling through the hallway before they entered showcasing big toothy smiles and exaggerated excitement.
I don’t believe a lot of what people say. Everyone has their own internal conflicts that rapid-fire through the mind during each social interaction. Is Bob looking at Sally, did Sally see me looking at Bob, etc. It’s always happening, constant influx of imperfect perception judging and analyzing with just as rapid succession, one assumption supporting the other until the car ride home is full of silence and desperation. Of course, that’s just one relationship. Who knows what single people are constantly thinking. Maybe that’s a way to stop thinking about myself so much, if I were in a relationship I could think of how I seem in the eyes of another and therefore create some space between my narcissism and me. That doesn’t seem right. No, clearly that’s a foolish thing to think. Why do I always fall into stupid traps like that. I don’t think as clearly as I used to. When I was young I was full of amazing ability and confidence, but I was too full of myself to think I needed to do anything with my talents. Here comes Greg, the boss. It’s half past eight already and I haven’t even opened my spreadsheet, yet.
“Good morning, sir. I was having some issues logging in this morning. Did anyone else have any problems?”
“No, not that I’m aware of. Be sure to put in a ticket for that. I’d like to catch any problems before they get worse.”
“Will do. I think Sandy made some coffee, should be ready now.”
“Sounds good, I can’t get anything done until that first cup, you know?”
“I sure do.” I fake laugh successfully this time, but fail to actually follow him over for a cup. I know I should shoot the breeze with him more, but I can’t stand the awkwardness of waiting for him to fill his cup while trying to pretend I know what happened in the game last night. No, I’ll let Corey milk that cow. Besides, I need to show initiative and put this ticket in with the IT guy. Sandy walks by and smiles.
Ok, at least now I don’t have to actually start working until the IT guy gets around to looking at my fake login problem. He’ll be thinking “user error” while I contemplate the brilliant way in which I’m securing his job with fake problems that will take him hours to remedy.