A year ago. 3/7.

Tuesday.

I spend most of the day refreshing OKC, in my browser and on my phone, and while I have a few potentially promising leads, Dustin’s gone silent.

In the evening, everyone at my company gets their Christmas present—a tailored pair of hand-made jeans from a reputable local shop. We tour the factory, an enormous workroom filled with stolid, motley machinery from older, more reliable decades. I resist the urge to run my fingers over the meticulously cataloged patterns, measured and cut and organized, we are told, by an exacting octogenarian who once designed for Levi’s.

I use a portion of my Christmas bonus to buy a woven artisanal necklace for my dear friend Sarah Cadence. A member of the staff wraps it carefully and lovingly and puts it in a brown paper bag.

But for all my efforts, I find myself dogged by Sunday, and fighting a rising swell of despair for which I can hardly account. As soon as is socially permissible, I make my goodbyes and slip out into the stark December night. There was beer at the event, and I’m a little buzzed, a little damaged. The walk back to the office, where I’m parked, where I left my stuff, lasts too long. When I arrive, I find three of my coworkers, all women, have beaten me to it—they’re back at their desks, but too engrossed in tying up the day’s loose ends to notice me as I gather my things and leave.

In my car, I make it a block before I realize something inside me is badly, badly wrong.

Automatically, autonomically, my brain steers me back to my freshly vacated streetside parking spot, and then through the office door, and then to the back of the building, towards the bathroom. My half-formed plan is to hide in a stall, but the way is blocked by two of my coworkers; their faces tell me everything I need to know about mine.

Someone says, “Are you okay?” and I unravel.

Neither woman asks for an explanation, but offer instead their arms and shoulders and silence, which I fill with gutted, humiliated sobs.

Someday, I will try to explain to them the immensity of their goodness.

When I get home, there’s a message from Dustin—polite, interested questions about Neil Gaiman and reading and Raleigh, but I’m too exhausted to answer.

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Comments

  1. Your writing is amazing. I can really feel the pain you must have been feeling.
    It also is giving me a new look into anxiety and emotions I had not had before. Actually very helpful personally right now.

    I want to go back into and just give you a hug and sit with you.

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