Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Descent & Smudges

"Oh, please, no," I begged silently as the plane descended. "Turn around. Go back. I don't want to be here."

And I winced at the knowledge that something is wrong. I have no great affection for flying and a surfeit of love for my home so my reaction ran counter to expectations. I had forced myself to travel, abandoning a list of excuses that are becoming well-worn and packing my bags before dawn on Monday.

Just do the next thing - focus one step ahead and no farther, I advised myself gently. You can do this. And I did. I zipped my bags and dressed. Walked the dog and shouted when she slipped from her leash and ran away to punish me for said packing and dressing. She came home and I departed, driving to the airport with prayers that I'd actually get on the plane. I pulled my boarding pass from my bag and waited in the security line. I removed then replaced my laptop and baggie of tiny liquids as I shuffled through the line as the sky brightened by remained gray.

I bought water and checked email messages on my Blackberry. I boarded, cheered momentarily by my Zone 1 status, and sighed with relief that I was going to my Very Important Meeting. And I handled each moment the same way - just move through the next task, move to the next step and try not to think about it.

I could feel the effort sapping my strength, collapsing into mental exhaustion at the end of each day. I breathed and prayed and tried to focus on the positive. I worked and watched television and embraced distractions. I grinned when I talked to my friend staying with Chienne and decided on what gifts I could bring her as a thank you. There were moments where it didn't hurt - when a glimmer of happiness or hope would emerge and sparkle.

I retraced my steps this morning, catching a cab before 4AM and wincing as the tires slipped on the snowy streets, murmuring my agreement to the driver when he noted it was scary. We boarded on time but waiting our turn to de-ice took ages, allowing me to nearly finish the book I was reading absently. (Book-related question - do you think you'd be capable of having a relationship with two people? Is that ability like sexuality (I like men) or can it evolve over time (I like men with dark hair but used to prefer they also have beards.)?) I sipped the Diet Coke I purchased from the gift shop (because I abhor Dasani water - it tastes funny) and watched with interest as the truck arrived and fluid streamed past the windows, taking with it chunks of snow and ice.

You know when you're driving in the winter and it's wet? And the moisture is laden with dirt and salt such that it speckles the windshield as you drive along? On the way to the airport, I pulled the lever in my Jeep and watched with satisfaction as the fluid sprayed and wipers swept the grime away. Perhaps, I mused, it's like church and my soul. The latter gets smudgey over time and worship helps clean it off.

It gets tiresome - the continuous smudging and cleaning - and I liked being up there above the clouds, in the sunshine. I didn't even mind bouncing through the cloud cover, surrounded by the white mist. But when we emerged and I beheld landscape coated with snow that reflected the pale gray light, I winced and wished I could push the nose of the plane back toward the sky by sheer force of will.

Sadly enough, I cannot control much of the world around me. So I struggle to control my reaction to it, taking a nap to soothe my headache and slogging through tasks that feel irrelevant and lame even if they do comprise part of my job. I tried to think of fun things to do, sent a couple of invitations when inspired, snuggled with my dog and smoothed Sprout's stripey coat.

I'm smudgy. And while I'd rather just rest until it's easier to see outside myself, I'll continue to find cleaning methods and alternate views.

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