One question: What in the fiery flying fuck?
Waking up with my head pounding, wondering what happened the night before, feeling shame, embarrassment, trepidation, asking myself where I go from here—this used to be a situation only copious doses of alcohol could usher into my life. Granted, there was a little bit of wine involved last night and maybe that’s why I’m still feeling nauseated, but probably not.
So we don’t need to go over what happened. This isn’t actually a political post. This is a post about the morning after. Which morning after? Any morning after.
Apparently, I look a straight-up disaster, or maybe my aura is whatever color represents sheer terror and uncertainty, because people have been really nice to me today, starting with my dogs, who didn’t even whine when I stayed in bed until nine thirty trying to outsleep my migraine (I was unsuccessful). They came over and snuggled me and stayed that way. Dogs, man.
So finally I made it out of the house, and by “made it” I mean that in the most laborious sense of the word, the way Atreyu “made it” out of the Swamp of Sadness in The Neverending Story. I opted to wear the clothing I slept in, except I figured I should slip a sweatshirt on over my sports bra but only because it’s chilly today not because I care about what anyone else thinks, or even could care if I wanted to. And that last bit is clearly corroborated by the state of my hair. I would post a selfie, but the world doesn’t need another bummer in it today.
I headed to Kerbey Lane Cafe, thinking some binge eating could do me good. That whole thing I’ve been doing where I avoid sugar and dairy? SEE YA! And clearly, I wasn’t the only one thinking along those lines, because at 10am on a Wednesday morning, the place was packed.
“You’re a writer?” asked the guy at the bar next to me when he saw me fretting over today’s measly Amazon sales.
“Yeah.” I fought the urge to shield my laptop screen from his view.
“What do you write?”
“Oh. I know what that is.”
“Sales sort of fluctuate with the stock market.”
“Ah, I see. Well, the market recovered pretty well after Brexit.”
“Sure, but this is a little closer to home.”
He stopped talking to me after that, but I think it was because he finally spotted my wedding ring. Or maybe because I was being a real fucking downer. It could always be that.
“Old Time Rock & Roll” came on the radio and a man two seats down from me started singing. I glanced over and we both started laughing. “It’s better than the music today,” he said.
“It’s hard not to sing this song,” I said.
We returned to our food. On the TV behind the bar, a sports show was discussing Colin Kaepernick, who apparently didn’t vote. You know, to protest.
“Idiot,” said the man two seats down from me.
I glanced back over at him. He was staring at the screen, the lightheartedness of a moment ago gone. “Right? Kind of downgrades it from a political statement to a tantrum when you don’t do what you can to fix things.”
He nodded. “He didn’t do anything to make it better.”
It should be mentioned that my new friend was black. I feel a little yucky even bringing his race into it except, unfortunately, certain races are more affected by last night’s events than others. You know, because the KKK’s favorite candidate won. And that’s where we are right now, y’all. That’s where we are.
“The good thing,” I said, more trying to convince myself than anyone else, “is that there are plenty of people who are doing things to make it better; they just don’t ask for attention.”
“That’s true,” he said. “That’s true.”
I said adios to my partners in commiseration and headed over to the coffee shop to… work? Right. Keep dreaming, Claire.
The gal behind the counter spotted me as I approached, smiled sadly, and asked, “What can I do to help you out today?”
Now, this is not a normal phrase for asking someone what kind of caffeine they want. I must have looked the way I felt. “Just a bottomless coffee,” I said, resisting the melodramatic urge to add, “as bottomless as the pit of dread in my stomach.” This would, of course, have been accompanied by my knees buckling and me just sort of melting into a puddle of my own emotions on the floor. But I didn’t do it. Because adulthood.
I found a seat at the bar, set up my laptop, pressed my fingers into my temples for a few minutes, then started clicking around on browser tabs, wondering if maybe that would make work happen. Would you believe it didn’t?
Then gal behind the counter came over, said, “This one’s on me,” and dropped off this:
I know what you’re thinking (or not). Claire, that cookie is full of gluten! What did you do?
I ate the fucking cookie. I’m not a monster. Maybe I’ll feel like crap, but holy mother of god has a cookie ever been so effective at saying, “We’re all in this together”? No. A cookie has not. Stop thinking back on all your life’s cookies to try to disprove me. I can assure you I’m correct on this.
So when a cookie reminds you that life can still be okay, that this whole beautiful country won’t devour itself without a fight, you eat that cookie, you hear me? You eat that fucking cookie. And you fucking love it.
And then about 30 minutes later, you shit it all out like a goddamn adult, get on with your life, and be good to the people around you.