It is a deal I have made time and time again:
Hey. (whispers Someone in my head; I do not know if they are angelic or demonic in nature we contain damn multitudes after all)
“What?” I ask, groggy with sleep and stomach already aching with nerves. It is, after all, a day of fresh, new possibilities. What can I fuck up today?
“I ASKED YOU ‘WHAT?'”
We promise to be a Good Person today if…
I am already retrieving my phone from my nightstand and pulling up the mobile ordering page. This monster has my number, and they have it good.
If you go get us a bagel.
And, to be fair, my friends, it is an excellent bagel, this one for which I’d sell my soul. It is a toasted Everything bagel filled with extra sharp cheddar cheese, bacon, an over-medium egg, and just a touch of Frank’s. I order it alongside a creamy iced coffee, and, hey, it’s over a mile walk to the bagel place there and back again, so this is almost like fitness, right? This is okay, right? This is good, right? This is going to Make Me Okay, please?
(Forgive me. I am, at my deepest, stickiest core, a recovering literature major, and nothing that is so is so. A bagel HAS TO MEAN SOMETHING.)
I am so desperate for the inherent Order of breakfast. If I pick the right thing, maybe it will set the tone for the Best Day Ever. If I consume the right combination of carbs and protein and iced coffee, maybe something will catch fire deep in my guts, and I will be UNSTOPPABLE. I will fly through my to-do list, will ace all my work tasks, will write some work of staggering brilliance, will EXERCISE, will be so content with myself and my choices that it will not feel like being flayed alive to relax and, I don’t know, watch a movie.
Breakfast is going to set me free, I always hope.
And this is a very good bagel. And it was nice to walk through my post-rainfall neighborhood and to listen to the birds and to see some trees. And I did get as far as bringing my things out onto the porch, reasoning that I’ll be more “productive” out here.
Because I have to be productive to count, right? (I know I know I know.) I do not know how to break this pattern, how to escape this cycle. By Wednesday, usually, I have “failed,” and I succumb to panic and self-loathing for the rest of the week. But I wake up on Monday and make my bagel-deal, and it’s enough like hope.
I keep a weekly to-do list on my computer these days, because my sweet, pure planner is complete nonsense now. And there are some days when I only cross the first two things off of my list.
I am not in charge of you. My words might mean next to nothing, but, once again, I have to say to you what I need to say to myself. Because I love you, and I would not wish this hurt on you. And I think perhaps you love me too, so I am glad that we’re in this together.
You do not fail when you do not accomplish your tasks today, “on time”, ever. This is new and scary, and being a person was already hard. You are allowed to be here even if you do not move a single muscle today. I know that, if I were with you this morning, I would only urge you to do what you need to do to feel safe and comfortable and as close to happy as we can manage right now. I would not berate you for needing the break, for needing the time, for needing a bagel as an excuse to get out of bed in the morning.
And maybe that’s it today, my strong heart. And that’s okay.
(We are okay.)