extraordinarily ordinary

December 19, 2009
Wake up to find my sheets and pillows and blankets positioned as they were when I fell asleep last night. On the floor lies my book, leaned open on last night's ending place. I step out of bed and into my slippers and pull my sweatshirt over my head, hanging there on the nob of the door. Open the blinds and in rushes light; I immediately regret that decision. Look at the clock. 7:34. I've wasted time. Downstairs and to the bathroom, I run the water til its hot. I splash it onto my face, so hot it burns, it turns my hands red. I scrub my cheeks and rub my eyes. Sufficiently clean, I dry my face and hands and pour lotion on to both.

Back to the bedroom, I stare into my closest, impossible to choose the right combination of clothing. I'm never quite satisfied- mid morning I realize I should have worn a particular bracelet, or discover that this pair of jeans needed a belt. And how can I never pick the right pair of shoes- out of 30 neatly lined and organized pairs of pumps and boots along my closet floor? Forget it, I grab a blouse and skirt. I don't have time to worry about my hair, so neatly and tightly back it goes into a ponytail. Sometimes I just want to chop it all off. Start all over. Maybe it will grow out pretty then. Eyeliner, mascara, and blush. A neutral lipstick conceals my cracked lips. Time- 8:15. Better get going, if I want to make it to class on time. A glass of water and I swallow my daily vitamin. I grab my books and my keys- I run back to the kitchen to grab a water bottle out of the fridge. Just to get me through the morning.

First class, I wish I had chosen coffee over water. I can taste it in my mouth- my vitamin that is. How is it that something so flavorless leaves such a taste in my mouth? Nothing water can't cleanse though. I pick at my nails to pass the time. I always seem to get terrible hangnails- I bite at them or pull them away from my finger. The skin peals away like stringed cheese, getting narrower and narrower until it pops off. Sometimes I pull the skin a little too deep, and drops of blood bead near my nail. I squeeze til it bubbles up. I usually just let it dry like that, making sure not to brush my finger on anything. Sometimes I suck on it, swallowing the salty blood. That however, creates a similar difficulty as the vitamin did. I'd rather just leave it alone. 9:49. The bell rings. Class is over.

Second class, I need to find bigger distractions. I stare at the clock for 5 minutes. 10:03. 67 minutes until lunch. I drink half of my water bottle. My stomach swims with fluid, were I to move it would jug around. My stomach thinks it's full. In this class I speak little- I prefer to listen. I try to listen to as many things as I can at once. The clock ticks, the teacher lectures in a monotonous tone, a student behind me rustles through papers in their binder, students on the other side of the classroom are whispering- I think they may be a couple, the desk squeaks underneath me, my legs brush together as I shift positions- my leg was beginning to fall asleep. 10:38. Only a half an hour more. We break into small groups and read out of our book the chapter on the Vietnam war. I flip through the pages, looking at the pictures. Innocent looking civilians, balancing baskets on their hips, thin and angular. These very natives are the killers, they are the guerrilla fighters. Innocent by day, murderer by night. I might as well be looking into the eyes of myself. 11:10. The bell rings. Lunch is here.

The halls crowd, and students push to make it to their cars, off to their fast food drive thrus and pizza parlors. I take my time, sitting in my car as the traffic crowds the school's main exit.

My house is quiet, it always is. I play music to cover the silence. I'm craving something sweet and grab a cookie from the Tupperware on the counter. Actually I grab two. Wash it down with the rest of my water bottle. I refill it and put it back in the fridge. I have plenty of time to spare. I step outside for a cigarette. I've earned it today. Deeply, I suck in the smoke, holding it in my body like a sponge. I exhale, directing the light smoke with my lips. After my cigarette, I go inside and turn off the lights and grab my keys. I check my phone in my pocket but I don't have any new messages.

Heading back to class, I float down the halls. I have reached the ultimate state. A euphoria of lightness. Nicotine swims through my blood, numbing me ever so slightly. I am clean, I am empty. I feel as though I could drift above the ground, weightless and pure. This is what I live for. This is my fix. My perfection. Alone, walking along the long hall, I achieve perfection.

Two more classes go by seamlessly. I laugh and engage in discussion. My high carries me on through the afternoon. Towards the end of my class I smell my index and middle finger of my right hand. The smell of smoke still lingers. I think I actually let a small smile escape my face. 2:35. The final bell. My day is over.

Driving home, I listen to my music loud. I park my car and walk inside, greeted by my loving family. I spend a few minutes with them, the usual "How was your day?" routine, and then I head to my room to change into casual clothes. I unbutton my blouse and slip out of my skirt. Staring at the mirror, I twist my body, turning it so the shadows cast just right. There, that's it. I am content. I slip into jeans and a sweatshirt. It is a warm enough day, I do not need my slippers.

Downstairs I nap on the couch, it is a daily necessity to make it through until the night. Dinner comes around 7 and I sit with my family and eat the prepared meal. I eat until I am full, but no further. I wouldn't want to lose that feeling of cleanliness. Food has a way of being so filthy. Heavy, it weighs you down, like being pushed in a pool with your clothes and shoes on.

Evening shower, I turn the water on til it steams, filling the room with humidity. My fingers and feet turn red from the heat, just as my hands did from my morning cleansing. I scrub my body, removing its filth, its impurities, its imperfections. I never quite get it all. No soap or washcloth is enough. Something remains. It is below my skin. I scratch and I scrub but it can't be removed. Discouraged, I turn off the shower and wrap the white towel around me. I envy its purity, no bleaching could ever make me so clean.

Night is my favorite- besides my afternoon float through the halls. I read or I write or I draw. I slip into my covers, careful to keep the sheets and blankets and pillows in line with the mattress. My legs rub against the covers, sleek and gentle. I recall my day, and review that which I could improve. I need to get ready more quickly tomorrow morning. I didn't really need both those cookies; tomorrow, one will do. Take your time on your water, it needs to last the whole day. I forgot to spray perfume after my cigarette. How stupid can I get- what if somebody smelled it on me? And that obvious gesture of raising my fingers to my nose, I won't let myself slip like that again. Such things are too be kept to myself, alone, away from curious, critiquing eyes. On the bright side though, today was an overall success. I achieved my quiet goal of emptiness. An accomplishment worth self-pride. A similar smirk creeps onto my face, and I reach up and turn out the light. Pitch black, I say goodnight aloud and prepare myself for sleep. Prepare myself for yet another day. Yet another extraordinarily ordinary day.

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