Wednesday, April 23, 2008
Nothing Had Changed
Here's the last scene in "On The Steps Of St. Something." Thanks for all the sweet comments!
Somehow I struggled through my morning classes in spite of the waves of nausea. I taught in two classrooms, both disadvantaged by noise -- one was right next to the men’s bathroom and every flush echoed through the room, the other next to a deaf rabbi who yelled each and every day about Nazis, the death penalty, and how morality is shot to hell in the world as we know it. I wondered how he worked that into a basic freshman composition class. In a weird way, I was thankful for feeling bad because not having a hangover would have made the world seem unbearably bright and full of possibility, something I could not have borne that particular day, November 1st, the Day of the Dead.
I left a little before my office hours were over, thinking about getting my prescription so that the night would be quiet and I could sit home alone without having a terrible anxiety attack, maybe cook dinner or watch television. I studied the map in my office, but out on the road I couldn't figure out which street was the service road I was supposed to take. I tried to stay calm, but I couldn't concentrate because I didn't feel entirely okay from the drinking, and I teared up, thinking that I would be on the same ugly roads, passing the same ugly buildings forever, not getting any closer to where I was supposed to be.
I pulled over next to a Catholic church and took my crumpled map out, but it didn't make any sense. All of a sudden, a hot flash washed over me, and I felt as though I was going to be sick. I stepped out of the car, hoping the cool air would help, and tried to appreciate the beautiful Indian summer day, a perfect day before the long winter set in. I sat down on the steps of the church and rested my head on the railing, thinking, Here I am on the steps of St. Something, and I feel like I might die. I thought I knew the area, but I lost my way. I didn't know if I could get back. I was too late for my appointment, and I didn't know what I wanted to do, only what I didn't want to do, which was get back in my car and drive home. Even though I hadn't prayed in a long time, I prayed the only phrase that came to mind - - "Make a way where there is no way."
After hanging my head down for what felt like forever, I heard the school next door let out, the children in their uniforms enjoying the weather, free from duty for a few hours. They waited for their rides, and I sat beneath a statue of Mary, her heart open and full of thorns for everyone to see. I looked at my map again before stuffing it into my purse. Nothing had changed, but I didn't feel quite so anxious. I felt tired and ready to sleep, and I found myself thinking about my ex-boyfriend and crying for the first time sober, remembering the many road trips we took together, the many miles I went with him, vast empty stretches we covered before I woke up and realized that the entire landscape had shifted.
Michelle's Spell of the Day
"I married Isis on the fifth day of May/ But I could not hold onto her very long." Bob Dylan
Drinking suggestion: Watch the Pistons tonight!
Benedictions and Maledictions