A story of today, 2/27/15

My eyes open and the first thing I’m aware of is my jaw locked shut. I open my mouth wide to loosen the grip. I roll over a few times, sleepy, but I am surely awake, and it won’t be long until I can’t pretend I’m not anymore. I think about what I’m going to do with the rest of my life three or four times before I get in the shower.

When I’m in the shower I remark to myself that I must not be too clever a person to worry so much about my whole life every day. This makes me more nervous than wondering what I’m going to do, so I get back to that. Wondering what I’m going to do starts with contemplating what I’ve done; which is a mixed bag of cats, so it’s hardly of any use. This is around the time that I notice I’ve gotten all jittery, and my blood is moving fast, and I tell myself, “stop fixating,” which sometimes works. I try to shake it off a little, and loosen my jaw again.

I exit the shower slowly, trying to train my movements; I call it controlling the pendulum. I stand there for a bit with the towel on me, observing the orange cat’s graceful, even temper. He follows me upstairs to my bedroom as if he’s looking over me, which I know is sweet, because he doesn’t have to love me and indeed loves few people. He climbs on the dresser to meet me eye-level and I ask him why everything has to be so hard. “Mrrp!” He responds in his language. His is the best response I’ve gotten to that question. He yawns and I notice my teeth are clenching again so I slacken them.

As I open my dresser drawer I try to stay calm, because however hard the shower was this is always worse. I try to remind myself that who I’m supposed to be today is who I am, which still doesn’t fully make sense to me, but it seems to lift a sort of weight off of my mind. I think, I always have to be who I am, even if that means I’m weird and alone. For some reason this sets things straighter. I chew on the side of my cheek for balance.

Creeping back down the stairs, I listen to hear if my Grandfather is awake, and if he is I try to find a way to avoid him; which is a bad habit I’m trying to break, but it doesn’t come naturally. He’s a hard person to face so early in the morning and I’ve paid so many of life’s taxes already. I make little noise with the door because he’s deaf and I know I can slip past him. My teeth are grinding as I slide the door shut behind me. Your teeth are going to fall out some day, I think to myself.

When I get in the car I no longer want to leave, but I do anyways, like my entire life of trying to find a way to put one foot in front of the other. When I pull out of the drive way I realize my jaw is slack and I tightened it quickly to its more familiar position and thought, no, damn, before I loosen it once more.

Charles Rae, Good Light Photography Team

Charles Rae is many things. Follow Rae’s work here on Medium, as a reporter at The Fifth Column, and follow on Facebook.

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