There was an odd comfort in being alone, as if I knew it was my fault and would never dare to fight against it. My bed was comfortable, it was very warm, almost sickeningly warm but not enough to make me want to do anything about it… or maybe that was just another consequence I didn’t feel I should fight against. The comforter was new, much heavier than my old one, I went out of my way to make this the way it was, so how could I complain. I had turned my fan two-thirds of the way up and faced it at my bed, which should have kept me from being too warm, but maybe I should have turned it up all the way. Of course, I shouldn’t have been laying there to begin with, I had things to do, after all.
I had a job, still not entirely sure what I did there. I would show up and pretend to be happy, like my life wasn’t a series of fuck ups that were completely inevitable and yet I was entirely incapable of avoiding them somehow. There’s this idea that if you act happy you will begin to feel happy. I can never remember what it is called. I know facial feedback is to become happy from smiling, perhaps it’s just a specific part of two-factor analysis. Regardless, it isn’t a perfect solution to emotional problems, it’s just a subtle little shift, something that can help push you over the edge when you’re close but no more.
Getting up out of bed seemed extremely difficult, but I had to weigh the alternatives. I would have to call in sick, which is a hassle. I could always not, I could just lay here and let life happen without me. There would always be some sort of consequences, not that I would care. But it’s easiest just to go with the flow, just go to work and pretend to be happy for all the people. Did they know? Could they tell? Were all those people just humoring me as I acted this all out for them?
So I got up.
Figured if I was going to do something might as well go all the way. I made my bed, showered, put on my boxers, my pristine undershirt, as if to attempt to spite the classic idiom I attempted to slide my pants on both legs at once still only managing to alternate between each pant. I wrapped my shirt around myself, and began to button it, with each button it felt even more useless, as if life was losing meaning with each strain of the thread holding the buttons in as I looped them through their appointed slots on the other side. I wanted to end this ritual as early as I possibly could and so I didn’t button the very top button at my neck. I looped the tie around my neck, dragging it around slowly, the friction increasing as more and more of it would attach itself to the collar of my shirt. But how could I tie it without that top button? I needed to and yet I believed that I shouldn’t, as if it would be to compromise on my belief that those buttons shouldn’t be buttoned. How could I choose to remain stagnant in a belief so late in the game? And so I begrudgingly forced that final button through its slot, and began to tie the tie.
I grabbed the right side, the wider side, which looked like an abyss… bringing it closer to myself would only bring me closer to the void. I pulled it down, then pulled the left side down, alternating between the two several times, slowly approaching the proper medium that I had been attempting to reach. There were lines on each side that when aligned would give just the right length on each side to be properly balanced when tied. I looped the right side over the left, then around back, then looped under the right side still aligned to my collar. The weight of the tie felt as if it were increasing each time I looped it over itself. Was this the physical density of the knot or was I just associating it with something more. Finishing the tying with the right side looping over the knot and finally back through itself on the front from over the left side along the collar.
The loop on the back of the thicker side of the tie has worn out since this was the only tie I would ever wear to work. Obviously I had a remedy for this problem as I had had this problem for a good year by then: a very subtle tie bar, simple and silver, just a rectangle that would clip the two ends together and perhaps to my shirt if necessary. I really should have put my collar stays into the slots beneath the collar but it would put stress on my neck and I really wouldn’t have bothered with such an ordeal over something that perhaps nobody would ever notice.
I slid a black sweater over my shirt, making sure that the collar and tie were clearly visible before folding the cuffs of my shirt over onto the sweater so that they created a terminal point for the sleeves just above my elbows. I only then noticed that I hadn’t tucked my shirt in, and so I did, leaving the sweater hanging over my pants. I wore white socks, because I never really saw the necessity of wearing black socks in any scenario.
I stood there at the bus stop. The wind blew across me. My unzipped jacket rustled. It bit like a feral cat, attaching itself to my face. I didn’t move, like it was only caressing me, running its hand along my cheek rather than kicking my head into the curb. It stopped for a moment. The bus had blocked the wind. The bus and I both stood there, neither moving. Like we were frozen, both waiting for each other. Between the two of us only one had any conviction in life, only one knew where it was going, only one had any idea what the fuck they were doing, and it sure as hell wasn’t going to stand and wait for the other to get itself together. And so the bus drove off without me. And I continued to stand there.
I had missed the bus, though that may not be the correct terminology to use in this instance, more so that I had let the bus go. I had come so far and I just let the bus leave me here. Why the hell did I do that? More important was the matter of what to do next, to perhaps reconcile the situation. If I was going to be late I should call ahead and tell those at my job that such was the case. I could have, of course, just stood there and awaited my death as the cold would inevitably envelop me. This bus route wasn’t too popular, so it wasn’t an every-15-minutes sort of thing, it was more like every 30 or so.
This was on the outskirts, a cheap, rundown suburb of Xanthe that was still populated enough to warrant keeping mass transit running but apparently not enough to keep it running well. It was always moments like these that would force me to reflect on my life, asking myself how it is that I ended up here, standing by this sign on the side of the road waiting for a bus that as far as I know may never come due to some unannounced budget cut or a strike by the bus drivers as their utopia comes crumbling down around them.
So I stood there at that bus stop awaiting the next bus, all the while contemplating what my life had become as I had come to do just about every day. Doing so had obviously never managed to get me out of whatever chains I had perceived to be my life, but my mind would wander and there I would find myself.