Just a dark day
I write this as the hours of a day wind down, dinner simmers in garlic sharpness on the stove and family wonders how my class was, marvels at how the rush-hour drive from school got me home before six p.m. Yet most of today felt like how four a.m. feels: cushioned, like cotton balls in my ears, and sounds diffuse through a layer of distant awareness because my mind is elsewhere. Isolated. A start-stop of sluggish clock hands and a jittery gasp back into reality as time lurches into motion with the expectant eyes of a professor, waiting for my answer to the question she asked.
¿Perdóneme, que es la pregunta?
Time is a consistently interesting phenomenon to me, especially on introspective days like this that seem to rest more heavily on my shoulders. Slushy walks with long legs back to a cold car, my too-full bladder complaining at the tightness of my high-rise jeans. But I didn’t want to take the time to find a bathroom because I’m craving home—I just want to be home.
The hilarity of the whole ordeal, I wonder, as my seat warmer fends off the chill, is that today wasn’t a bad day. Nothing outlandish happened to me. People were nice, I laughed in class with peers who are rapidly tumbling out of the stranger category. I interacted, something that seems like a momentous act on days like this but as a self-reminder, is something I do regularly, and enjoy quite a lot.
So why then do I feel like I’m in bubble wrap?
A headache thrums behind the delicate skin of my temples; I know I should drink more water. I slept in too late today and didn’t pick up my textbook in time for class. I have a to-do list that I could lengthen until a fresh page was needed, yet productivity seems like a far-off once-was of a woman I’m not anymore.
CBC radio plays softly in the background and the dark, Canadian-winter streets glisten in zero degree Celsius weather. Streetlight refracts back against the ceiling of my Mazda 3, brake lights flash and illuminate the interior of the car in front of me. I wind away from school on wet streets and pass places I’ve been; I think about going to workout and remember I didn’t bring my gym bag. Thoughts coalesce like water droplets, neurons fire in what must be just as rapid a transaction as other, brighter days but I’m more aware of my fingers gripping the warmed spots of the steering wheel than I am of anything else.
I’ve been painting sunsets and cloudscapes a lot recently. Their moody hues and volume whisper to a part of my soul that questions everything I do. Kind of like the familiarity of best friends sharing dreams in hushed voices at a sleepover because it’s past midnight and parents said to go to sleep hours ago. Sunsets speak to me, I always fall back on trying to capture their depths. It’s always struck me as poetic how something can be so fleeting yet promise an almost daily return.
Dinner passes quickly, my thoughts spooling down the hall to my studio where these words wait for me to continue deciphering what it means to have a dark day. How to classify something that in every way shouldn’t be an issue when you can feel inky fingers sliding up your throat to cut off your air?
Mum wonders aloud that I look distraught, the muscles in my face subconsciously working harder to pull my lips into a frown rather than into the smirk or elated grin everyone would prefer to see—including me. She hugs me as I wash dishes, asking quietly what’s wrong, that I seem out of sorts. The lump in my throat and sting in my eyes make no sense.
All this thinking I do and yet.
I’m not sure, mum. Just a dark day.