‘Does it really count as starting over if you’re doing it for the nth time?’
‘Isn’t that more of a re-arrangement than an overhaul?’
‘Does it have to be an overhaul to count as a start-over?’
All these questions run through my mind as I look through red-rimmed eyelids at the grey wooden toilet door. I’ve been seated in this stall for about almost an hour hoping that I will finally compose myself long enough to walk back to my desk and act like nothing is happening. It’s a narrow stall; I can’t even spread my hands out fully in opposite directions, but somehow I like that. Every fifteen minutes or so, I get up, flush the toilet (to make it look like it was nothing but an exceptionally long call) and then reach for the door. The tears then make a re-appearance and I sit back down. It’s not smelly thank God, and the white wall tiles are surprisingly well kept. A one Gerald stuck a note on the inside of the toilet door basically threatening us into remembering bathroom etiquette; “If you sprinkle as you tinkle, please be neat and wipe the seat”. Does Gerald know that this means people are thinking of him almost every time they answer nature’s call?
I don’t want to go back to face the world. I’m so tired of “adulting”. Should I just feign sickness and head home early? I’m so angry, and sad, and full of regret and self-pity, a cocktail of emotions I haven’t had to sip on in so long that even though I know it’s not really the first time, the intensity feels strange. It’s like that cousin you were best friends with when you were ten but when you meet up fifteen years later as adults, you have nothing to say to each other. Familiar, but strange.
KNOCK KNOCK KNOCK. ‘Is someone in there?’ I must have got lost in thought for a few minutes because I hear a group of girls mumbling outside, something about the stall having been locked for the longest time.
‘GO AWAY’!!!! is what I’m thinking, but I’ve been raised well enough to get up from the covered toilet seat slightly to reach the stall door and knock in reply to let them know there IS someone in here. I sit back down, roll off some more tissue and wipe the snot running freely out my nose. Phew, this has been an intense weeping for sure. I don’t even need to look in a mirror to know my eyes are extremely swollen. I’m relying on the fact that most people at work are so uncomfortable around misery that they would rather act like they don’t see your puffy eyes than have to ask what happened.
It’s been a tough week emotionally. Today is the fifth day in a row that I’ve received bad news; no scratch that, more like catastrophic news. It feels like life has been given the exclusive mandate to keep delivering blow after blow until I finally give in and stay down. My hopes and dreams are driving off smiling into the sunset in a Mercedes convertible with a license plate that has a hand with the middle finger up, leaving me standing by myself, staring in the parking lot. Disappointment always cuts deep, no matter how many times you’ve been there and it’s in this brightly-lit cold toilet stall that I must mourn, get myself together and start over all at the same time.
|My hopes and dreams...driving off!|
Luckily, I’m quite methodical. If I think back far enough, I should be able to remember a chapter from this old book. I’m sure there’s a formula buried somewhere in the dog-eared pages of the well-kept leather-bound book called Experience. There it is. “Getting your groove back; How to start over for the 99th time”. I start flipping and try to memorize each word.
· -Don’t do it alone- That should be easy. I have amazing friends and a great family. I prefer to be alone for now but I’ll remember this in a day or two.
· -Do it anyway- This will come in handy when my feelings and my responsibilities are at opposite poles. I’ll remember this because at the end of the day, a girl’s gotta eat.
· -Do it continually- Basically go through the motions. Fake it till you make it. Got it.
· -Do what you do best- That I can do as well. Put aside what I’m failing at for now and focus on perfecting what I’m doing well. This is so productive!
The tears have stopped and the bathroom is clear of humans. ‘If I don’t move now, I might not leave today. Don’t think, just do.’ I get up as fast as I can and yank the stall door open. Bye-bye Gerald. I didn’t tinkle so we are ok. I throw a quick look at the mirror outside the stall and confirm my swollen eye suspicions. Keeping my eyes fixed on the ground, I walk out of the bathroom and towards my desk, No one stops me, no one notices me. It’s only once I’m seated at my desk typing away that I notice a colleague staring at me. She quickly looks away when our eyes meet. That’s what I thought. I resume my typing.
Before I know it, it’s time to head home. I made it. I made it through today. Tomorrow is another day.