It’s been not ten minutes since my shower and seven and a half steps into the morning and my antiperspirant is already losing its battle. A mustache of sweat feeds sunscreen to my lips and shades topple from my asymmetrical nose-bridge. I’ve forgotten a hat to cover up the frizz.
My calves resist all attempts to accelerate and make way for grandmas on bicycles pedaling a summer’s breeze. I’m the itsy bitsy spider minus half the limbs to climb up the concrete hills. A missing thigh gap forces a burning friction against my jeans; could’ve worn shorts if I’d shaved all the fuzz.
I’m twelve minutes late to preschool drop-off. My face looks more fruit than human. My spot at the cafe is decorated with crumbs. My cafe doesn’t believe in air-conditioning. Everything is just as it always is, except me.
It’s not as simple as I don’t give a fuck — it’s that I didn’t really think about giving a fuck, you know? No? Ok, let’s try this again.
You see, there’s a peach galette before me, in a buttery glaze browned to perfection, ready to marry a steamy cappuccino. But I won’t choke with sadness and delight as it disappears down my throat. My left arm is throbbing like an old guitar, but I’m not checking to see if it completes a cardiac circuit. A cacophony of ceramics crash in the kitchen but I’m not thinking of jumping out of the building. I’m not thinking of dying. I’m not thinking of meaning. I’m not thinking.
What if this absence of thought, this annulment of emotions I’ve often labeled apathy, is actually happiness? Happiness has got to be more than a fleeting experience, unlike ecstasy or joy. It must be a steady state, like holding one’s head up the proverbial water, despite the whirlpool and great whites. Sure, you take in a few gulps or can’t feel from neck to toe, but mostly, you’re floating. Happiness must be a weighted average of mostly-s.
That conclusion itself might have driven me to declare happiness as a concept depressing. But my current “ness” is not privy to such dramatic expression. Happiness is anti-climatic and often, like anything wrapped in expectations, disappointing. As I walk away from the edge, I won’t be so outrageous as to claim I’m coming back to life, but (dear Floyd) I do see a distant ship smoke on the horizon.