When driving home, I need to remind myself what a green light means and when I arrive home, I double-check that I put the car in park before I get out. Writing fiction feels impossible, let alone useless. Running is not an option. That sounds like a euphemism. It’s not. I’ve bullied my Achilles tendon to the point that I’m in a boot. Reading has long been an emotional refuge, but after reading the same paragraph five times, I push the book away. Instead, I attack my bathroom with bleach, cleaning out the space beneath the sink like I’m clear cutting a forest because life’s too short to have so many half-empty bottles of conditioner, worn down eyeliners and gauche shades of lipstick.
While walking the dog, a soccer ball clangs against the chain-link fence and I jump like it’s a gunshot. Loud music and laughter is shrapnel in my ears. I try the news, but I can’t digest the stories of war and death and discord and I can’t look at this computer screen for another minute, so I pull out the hose, the bucket, the sponges and that cleaner that smells terrible and I scrub the porch furniture even though it’s half-past September and the season for sitting outside is pretty far gone.
When a snatch of peace arrives, I sit on my back porch in one of those portable fold-up chairs that you take to watch your kid play soccer. My dog lies content in a patch of sunlight. A single bird sings. And I know that though I’ve been changed permanently, I will be okay. We all will be. Eventually.