Today dawns with biting wind. There is something powerful about the sliver of light through the navy sky at this hour. And I feel ready to pick my bifocals without getting too upset about my deteriorating vision.
The shower head runs slower than usual. Must be the sprinklers, I realize a little too late after dumping the first dab of shampoo over my shoulder-length hair. I am reminded of umpteen items to do in the half hour slice that will begin once I get out. If I get out. In time. My anxiety takes a shape, foaming my thoughts. The water keeps falling – pressure differential proportional to my shallow breathing.
It has been a layoff week. I have heard about three layoffs in a week. Two of them are close friends. One a father of my kid’s best friend. As much as I wish to send words of comfort their way, I also know that those words won’t work now. They need some space and time. I did, when I went through it the first time. It felt earth-shattering when I realized all my years of dedication could fit in a cardboard box and the cubicle I worked in for years will not carry any trace of me from hereon. It had disturbed me for weeks, possibly months, going over different permutations if I’d done something to cause it or not to prevent it. And whenever I opened my eyes, it was there – the feeling of rejection – an invisible dinosaur – cracking my foundation of confidence – caulking it with doubt and misery.
I notice a bathed window, as wet hair stick to my neck. The sprinkler has gone rogue. Again. The process of calling the maintenance guy and explaining to him why it does not work, tires me instantly. I look out for a second and the ready-to-flourish crabgrass lights up like fluorescent gas stations on deserted highways, extending my frustration.
A deep breath rescues me. Outside, the sun is fighting the dark clouds and the whole world is invited to celebrate, yet no one is watching. I return to my layoff experience. I remind myself of the wonderful outcomes that came as a result of that episode. I found a better job; I learned new tools; I adapted. I survived. However, the understanding arrived in time.
I open my email as I fit lunch boxes in totes, fill water bottles, and arrange the dishwasher for its morning duty. It says – I am late on finishing my yearly volunteer training for hospice. Twenty feet away in bedroom, I can sense my book stand nodding with half-read, overdue pile. Laundry waiting to be folded, hidden in the dryer reminds its presence. Outside a few rowdy clouds have gathered over my roof, grumbling and sparking abuses. It might start raining any moment and today is trash pickup day!
Suddenly my head begins to feel the heaviest part of my body, but I dismiss the overwhelming urgency of day-to-day things. I take my time to pull the bins out and no wonder, the rain comes in full swing. I stand there, without resistance and make my way back – enjoying the slightly chilled drops settling into my hair and ears. I think of the monsoon in India, I enjoyed as a kid. I think of my children. The layoff forced me to prioritize between them and my next job just as the downpour will recede into a delicate sprinkle – giving way to new-born sunlight.
I think of writing notes of inspiration to my friends and mailing them. I know – they need to hear it.