There’s a bruise on my arm, a lingering reminder of last week’s misadventures. At first, I thought I’d escaped such a wound, but this one was sneaky, waiting to appear until it seemed the danger had passed.
Though the week, it’s shifted shades between yellow, black, and blue, serving as a demented mood ring for brutal times. And yet, somehow, through it all, there hasn’t been a single moment when it hurt.
“I don’t feel much/I don’t feel anything at all,” the chanteuse crooned, as I stood in the not-quite-a-crowd, texting. With a four-piece band, stripped of the horns that take the edge off the album track, the song’s mournful nature played to the mostly empty room.
I’d seen her before, at Sasquatch, an early-day set featuring a surprise cameo by Ryan Adams, a long-time favorite. In this room, though, with more time than songs, she played to the crowd, covering Simon and Garfunkel and Janet Jackson while improvising a song about the city in which we stood.
In the corner, I simmered, and I sulked, and I reached in my pocket and clutched my keys tight.
Two nights earlier, at another show—because there’s always another show, these days—I sulked as well, burying the day’s news until my friends were far enough into their cups that I knew they’d ask few follow-ups. After two months of sitting, waiting, and occasionally, just occasionally, hoping, the agent who’d requested the full manuscript of my memoir had replied with a form rejection letter, which arrived on my phone minutes into what became a 3.7-mile run at the gym. I tried to push harder on that run, tried to go further, but my legs could only do so much.
Try as I might, I can only ever do so much.
Despite my best efforts, my friends had questions, and I explained to them how the letter reset the clock, how this book, even in the best-case scenario, was increasingly looking like a ten-year project. Around us, goth cover songs filled the space, sounding upbeat by comparison.
That night, when I arrived home with a full bladder and an empty heart, I watched helplessly in slow motion as my condo keys fell out of my hand, slid across the elevator floor, and fell in the gap between the inner and outer doors. My first thought wasn’t to call a locksmith or to scream, but rather, simply, Something in my life has to change, a thought that had been building in intensity throughout the previous couple weeks of binge drinking, but ironically peaked in that moment, stone sober.
I called a locksmith and waited in my lobby until an Israeli man arrived, some time later. Upstairs, as he struggled with my door’s lock, I struggled with my existence, thinking of summer and sadness and all the places I wished I could be, presumably already occupied by someone else. I held my head as the man drilled the lock off my door, hoping that none of my neighbors would hear and confront me, because I wasn’t sure if I could handle anything more that day.
My mom called tonight, filling me in on her trip to Florida and my cousin’s son’s cancer treatment regimen that she witnessed last week. After she told me about the hole in his chest, the drugs flowing through him, and the surgery soon to come, I caught her up on the relevant details of my life since we last spoke. She said it sounded like a rough week.
I can’t tell if my bruise is healing.