I actually had this thought while drinking my Americano this morning: “This coffee feels like a warm, reassuring, uplifting hug.” Yes, these are the innermost secrets of my brain. It’s good that it can substitute for a hug, because I doubt I’ll be getting a real one today.
I get on my second bus and the driver says, “Where ya going?” Where AM I going? I can’t remember. I mean, I know I’ll KNOW it when I get there, when I hear it called out, I’ll say, yes, yes, that’s where I want to be, that’s my place. But still, I’m shuffling and stammering and what is that stop again? Finally I say it: “Overlake. Overlake!” I laugh awkwardly, feeling stupid. He’s already moved on to someone else, which is just as well.
I’m feeling overwhelmed. It’s work and my way-too-long commute and wondering if I’ll ever have a job without a way-too-long commute and writing my thesis and feeling inarticulate and unfunny and unsmart and there’s another class I’m taking, too, which hasn’t gotten the thought and attention it deserves. It’s my relationships and trying to keep in touch and feeling like I am forever failing and not knowing how to communicate “it’s not you, it’s me”, which is absolutely true and absolutely cliche, so no wonder no one believes me. It’s that I can’t sleep because my mind is racing and when I do sleep I have weird dreams about strange men breaking into my apartment at night with knives and frying pans and loneliness, because I just read While the City Slept by Eli Sanders, and I can’t believe something so inexplicable, so undeserved, could happen in my city, in the place that I am growing to love. It’s that things like that happen in every city, in every place someone loves, and that may be the most overwhelming thing of all.
Feeling overwhelmed makes me feel ashamed, because I know that I am privileged beyond reason, that I am loved somewhere, that I only have to look after myself and my dog. That everyone is overwhelmed. I’m trying to tell myself that just because everyone else feels something, that I’m going through something millions, billions, go through, it’s still valid. It doesn’t make it illegitimate. My telling isn’t helping much.
So I sit on the bus going where I’m going, feeling overwhelmed. I play with my dog’s ears, rolling up their floppy softness like a tortilla, and she leans her head on my knee like it’s the best pet she’s ever had. I’m pretty sure it’s not, that she’s merely tolerating my ear-curling, because she somehow knows it’s making me feel a little less anxious. I give her extra head scritches, trying to make it up to her. I am intensely grateful for her tolerance. It’s almost as good as a hug.