A Beautiful Mind?

I live a routine. Predictable, clockwork. I arrive at work at exactly the same time every morning. I drop off Eli at school at 7:15 and then drive a mile or so to the library. For a couple of years, I turned on the building lights every day. I beat my coworkers by at least a half hour. Walking into the dark, empty building was one of the highlights of my day. Enveloped by a sense of calm.

That’s over. Emily started three months ago. She beats me most days by ten minutes. It shouldn’t make a difference. The only thing that’s changed is the lights are on when I walk in. And I now shout out “Hi” at the top of the stairs as I walk past her office. I can’t even see her. Her desk sits around a corner. Still, I miss my empty building.

I look for her car as I drive up. We rent parking from another company. Assigned spots. It’s not that I don’t want her there, I just want to be first. This morning a white sedan sat in her spot. A four-door, backed into the space like a good Pennsylvania driver. Sometimes it seems like I’m the only one in town who can’t back into a parking space. I’m always crooked, over the line.

The white sedan is new. Not a new car, just new to me. It’s usually a black SUV or on occasion something that looks like a sports car. Sorry I can’t be more specific. I’m not a car guy. The chances of me identifying the make and model of a car on sight are nil—so just a sports car. “How many cars do they have, anyway?” It’s an unfair question. Three isn’t a lot. We plan to buy a third car before Sophie gets home from college next summer. With four drivers, two cars doesn’t work. Still, I didn’t expect the sedan, it wasn’t as nice as the others.

I pulled into my space, which faces Emily’s space. The black SUV sat right in front of me, nose into the spot. I looked around, no other cars in the lot, certainly no white sedan, so I know I wasn’t looking at the wrong car. It just changed when I looked away.

A year ago, in a meeting, I blanked out for a minute. No one noticed. We were talking about restaurants and suddenly everyone was deep in a conversation about real estate. It’s called an absence seizure. Lights on, nobody home. I had an EEG and an MRI—two procedures I’m still paying off—both were negative. Nothing apparently wrong. After a year, I wrote it off as one of those weird, unexplained things that just happen sometimes.

At lunchtime, I called Susan. Initially, I planned not to tell her, she worries about my health, but I figured I’d be pissed if she did that to me. “What the hell is my problem?” She asked me all the same questions I would ask her. Vision problems? Forgetfulness? Dizziness?

“You just got your booster two days ago, and you’ve been living on Tylenol Cold and Flu medicine. Maybe it’s a reaction?” Jeff googles Moderna and hallucinations.

When I got back from my run this evening, Eli was home from the gym. “Hey, how was school?”

“Good, we saw the end of A Beautiful Mind in Psych class today.”

“Oh, is that the movie about the schizophrenic guy who always hallucinates?”

My friend Brian called tonight. We went to college together. In his new job, he’s doing research on aging at Johns Hopkins. We talked about how we both notice areas of decline. I mentioned that I keep getting slower on my bike. I didn’t talk about my brain.

I don’t have an end to this story. No clever wrap-up, no moral, no conclusions. To be continued, or maybe I’ll never mention it again. Just one more strange event to mark in my calendar.

Note: To simplify the story, I only mention Emily’s presence as the disruption to my morning routine. In truth, we also hired a morning cleaning person which adds to my feelings of entering a crowded building at 7:20 in the morning. And yes, I understand that this is a ridiculous ‘problem’ to have.

Photo by Jonathan Daniels on Unsplash

24 thoughts on “A Beautiful Mind?

  1. A glitch in the Matrix?
    I’ve had weird stuff happen to me lots of times. If all your neuro workups are good, and otherwise you’re not feeling off, I wouldn’t worry about it too much. You have an awesome imagination and my guess would be a kind of fugue state while on autopilot.

    My booster of Pfizer kicked my ass worse than the first two. Of course, it could’ve been cuz I got a tetanus booster at the same time too🤷🏼‍♀️

    Liked by 1 person

    • Funny, when I told Eli about this, our conversation quickly turned to the matrix. Then he started trying to convince me that we had just one cat, not two. I had a meh day after my booster. I didn’t feel *great* but I was functional.

      Liked by 1 person

    • Part of me can easily discount it as just not paying attention, but my brain seemed to be actively engaged on the topic. It won’t be the first time I’ve seen something completely wrong. One time I was driving down the highway nd in the back of the panel truck in front of me, a guy was bending down, lifting straw over his head and dropping it… over and over. I watched this for thirty seconds wondering WTF? Suddenly my focus shifted and I realized it was an elephant eating hay. And once again, I wondered WTF?

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      • I’ve had instances where I thought something was something else or someone else (which happens more frequently now that I need glasses) we can only rely on what our cognition tells us an object is – which is a scary but interesting thought.

        Liked by 1 person

  2. Could some light have reflected off the shiny paint, and maybe in this fugue state or autopilot, it made you think it was white? Our brains naturally tend to fill in details that aren’t there.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. I can see how that would be bothersoe to have someone else in the building when you were so use to having it to yourself for those 30 minutes..

    and I do like to back into a parking spot, but it’s not perfect every time, but good enough. didn’t know it was a PA thing…

    sounds like you may be picking your friend’s brain now and then…

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Our whole house went down for the count last week. Bob is still in bed with the chills. The kids and I are just getting back on track. I’m trying to figure out what I completely ignored last week, what I tried to get done and how far did I make it. A definite glitch in the system. Hope you are feeling better soon. Maybe it was just the booster?

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    • There are 2 separate bugs going around Gettysburg this year (world’s worst cold & a really nasty stomach virus–which I haven’t caught yet). Add in omicron, and everywhere I look I see tiny viruses invading my space. I’d say I’m finally over my cold, I went mountain biking yesterday and didn’t have any issues. I hope you all get well soon without any lingering symptoms messing up your Christmas. No more hallucinations (as far as I know) although Eli was trying to convince me that we only have one cat instead of two for the past 7 years. It’s nice that we can have fun with my brain problems.

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  5. Not to make light of what happened to you in the meeting, but given that it happened IN a meeting, I’m going to refer to Captain James T. Kirk’s words “A meeting is an event where minutes are taken and hours wasted.” Maybe your brain found a better place to be during that meeting? I know I often let my brain wander anywhere outside the meeting during … many meetings 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

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