Sometimes I think the only moments I have of joy are caused by utilitarian objects. Sharp scissors that cut construction paper and are where I last left them? Googly eyes with auto-adhesive backs? A hardback version of a classic book with wipe-down pages? The dopamine spike is sharp and immediate.
I read my gratitude journal and ask myself when it was exactly that I became a school marm? Am I unquestionably one? I must be, if I know the word.
I know how to pronounce Nietzsche too, but no one asks.
All the feelings I have about him are protective. From there you already know where I’m going: warm, tender, emotions that envelop like arms.
Sometimes, very late nights, I worry about him. I do not want him to disappear one day and come back, three days later, a changed man. So I put it out of my mind very quickly and think about something else.
Why does anyone feel the need to advise me, anyway? Is it because I’m polite? Because they know I’m never going to tell them to get lost, just grit my jaw and look bored and hope that the body language conveys my point.
“Why do you let people burden you with their baggage?” Isolde asked me with a snort. I frowned. “Don’t oink at me – its not something I want happening to me. I’m actually like, kind of torn up about it. Really.” I looked at her feet, propped up on my bench. She looks like a vagabond but the soles of her feet are always clean. “Do you get unsolicited advice?”
“What do you do about it?”
She sat up and looked at me, annoyed. “I tell them to go fuck themselves.”
“No, not really.” She sighed. “I try to cut them off before they get to the advice part, and if that doesn’t work I try to politely like, hand it off, you know? Like ‘oh that’s nice look at those strawberries’. And if it stilllll doesn’t work I say ‘Well we all have our lives to live, don’t we? And nobody can learn from anyone’s mistakes but her own.’ ”
It actually sounded good to me. “Think I could use that at work?”
“Sure . . . when you want to get super-fired.” She mimed a giant explosion.
We’re already not talking again. I wish our relationship were either strictly business or personal – but then it wouldn’t be. There isn’t a shred of any of the things that make personal relationships function; no respect, or affection, or – well, what can exist without respect?
I already know that I’ll find myself in his office again. I’m tired of pretending these things won’t occur when I know they must.
But I am more tired of trying to believe that even the basic courtesies will be employed.