I just wrote a piece called Depression in Two Parts. I stuck it in the Vault. That’s what I call the buried folder on my hard drive where revealing essays go to die. The ones I don’t want to post. The ones that aren’t about me. DITP is about family. And friends (ex-friends) and emotions. There’s only one scene I want to share:
Tommy the cat realizes we’re alone in the house. He crosses the room at a trot and bounds onto the couch, purring. He can tell when I’m feeling off, agitated. When I go to bed sad, Tommy rubs his head on my hand and eventually lies down on it, pinning me in place, like Jesus, by my hand.
Today was rough. My in-laws left town this morning. Three days of togetherness. As an introvert, I’m good for two hours. Then I need to recharge. Hence my moment with Tommy. Recharging. Sophie got up to see her cousins off, to pick up Eli. He slept over at ground zero for three days, his grandparents’ house. Fourteen of them on beds and cots and couches and floors. Eli’s an extrovert. When he wants to be. The rest of us slept at home, thankful for the space.
Sophie and Eli returned to find me at home drinking coffee—crusty, headachy, like I drank something last night besides seven glasses of water—grumpy and uncommunicative, not that they wanted to communicate either. Sophie went back to bed. Eli fell asleep on the floor. Susan held out until evening but eventually took a nap.
Today was almost a total loss. I tore a fluorescent light fixture from my closet ceiling. Something I vowed to replace when we moved in fifteen years ago. The bulbs were out, all but one, and that was flickering. I painted the space where the light used to be—with primer, not ceiling white, there was none left in the basement. It almost matches.
Susan and I took a half-hearted walk, a mile around our neighborhood, for fresh air and to talk. That was my day, all of it. I didn’t put up a new light fixture, I didn’t even go out and buy one. I didn’t exercise like I said I would. Most of my day was spent on the couch, reminiscent of my real hangovers twenty years ago.
I’ve hit the point of day, nine o’clock at night, when that real hangover from my past life might go away. Shaky and spent, famished from a day of illness, I’d watch a movie, eat some takeout and then read until late. Very late. The goal was to go to bed without once thinking about my life, my wasted day, my coming workweek. Just occupy my mind until deep sleep blanked it for eight more hours.
I suppose writing is the opposite of that. Immersed in my thoughts, introspective. I’m confronting my life, at least pieces of it. So why does tonight feel exactly like one of those hangovers from my past?