Wednesday, July 28, 2010

One September Morning

A twenty-four year old who doesn't know that she's highly sensitive yet can spend quite a few moments of her life wallowing in a dangerous cycle of anxiety and self-pity. What, you may wonder, has her so down in the dumps and feeling as though she's about to rip herself out of her skin at a moment's notice? Oh, believe is heavy stuff.

She's working two jobs, one from eight to five as an assistant in commercial real estate and then another from six to ten in an upscale department store selling shoes to ungrateful femme fatales. She then drives the forty-five minute commute back to her apartment where she crashes for a cat-nap and waits for the sounds of the neighbor taking a shower to wake her up at 5 am before her alarm does. She has a boyfriend who is so busy running his furniture business that at times it seems as though he doesn't really want to work on their relationship. He's all for getting busy, but then again if you're forty-something and you've got a twenty-something hottie at your side, why wouldn't you be?

There are many moments when she wonders why she's here, in Florida, and whether or not she should pack up and move back to Colorado. She doesn't really want to move back to the land of no opportunity, but she'd like a do-over and it seems like a good way to get one. She's miserable because no matter what the momentary details are, her idealistic picture of what should be doesn't match up with reality.

She has a college degree, so why should she have to work two jobs to make ends meet and pay back the debt she accumulated in order to get it? She knows what she really wants to do, but is ignoring it in pursuit of what seems more practical and attainable. She doesn't quite realize it yet, but you can't chase after something that doesn't fit you and expect to somehow catch it. Still, she wastes time getting frustrated and feeling like she's empty inside. She's also been brainwashed by years of bad daytime love stories, chick flicks and romance novels and doesn't understand why life doesn't afford you the opportunity to star in one.

Some of her co-workers pull her aside and tell her the man isn't worth it, they feel the same way about having to work two jobs, that she's still very young and has time on her side and that if packing up her stuff and moving back home is what she has to do, then so be it. They also discuss about how there's more to life than just working and there's a lot that's missed by simply meeting its obligations and not taking the time to dance to its music. She hears the words and they make sense, but she still feels what she feels. Alone. Cheated. Despair. Worry. Anger. Frustration.

Then the unthinkable happens. It's September 11th, 2001. She's busy opening up the office, sorting through e-mails, planning her tasks for the day and chatting with her boss about a mixture of personal stuff and what's on today's agenda. A vendor has come in for a meeting and while they're schmoozing, the maintenance staff comes in with the horrific news of what's going on in New York. Tenants are gathered outside, buzzing with what they're currently witnessing on their televisions. The corporate office in Atlanta calls and tells us to go No questions. Orlando receives numerous bomb threats. The government scans all the tags on I-4 as they're driving from helicopters above. Everyone is scared they might die. Her boss tells her she'll call if the office is still closed tomorrow, otherwise come in, and if they die today, at least they'll be at home. She calls her Mom before heading out the door to see if everything is ok back in Colorado. It is, for now. She has a plane ticket to fly back in November for Thanksgiving that is already paid for. She trembles into the phone that she doesn't think she'll be able to come now. Mom says ok, let’s wait and see and asks again if her daughter is ok.

On the way home she listens to the radio and calls the boyfriend to make sure he and the kids are ok. They are. She sighs in relief, but is still terrified. She hopes she makes it home ok. She does. The t.v. she's had since she was 19 blew out over Labor Day and she doesn't have the money to get a new one, so she turns on the radio, leaving it on all night. The skies are quiet for days. People are actually courteous on the roads and no one seems to be in a hurry anymore. A tropical storm blows through, adding to the insult, shock and despair that everyone is feeling.

In an instant her problems no longer exist. They are frivolous. Her cycle of self-pity and anxiety seems so insignificant and shameful. People lost their lives; she still has hers. What seemed so important before gets momentarily erased from her list. She still has a chance to make a difference, no matter how small or seemingly insignificant. She still has a chance to write another chapter, another sequel, another set of scenes. She knows the pain of loss well, but can't imagine why so many have to experience it so suddenly now.

She realizes that she has no reason to be unhappy. She wrote this set of scenes and this montage that she finds so unfulfilling. If she wants something different, she'll just have to get busy writing herself a new one.

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