"Hi. How are you? Yeah, I know. I miss you, too. Oh please, you don't want to hear about me. Too boring. Tell me about you. What's going on in your life? How are the boys?"
I listen. I listen. I can tell that my face is turning red.
"You're kidding? He loves college, has a great roommate, great classes, the perfect girlfriend and he's just...Completely great. How fantastic!! And what about the other one?"
I listen. I listen. But I have curled my toes so tightly in my sneakers that they are cramping up and I can't seem to straighten them out. AND THEY HURT.
But I keep listening.
"He's never been happier? Oh, that's wonderful. Loves his new job. Working with terrific people over seas. He just loves everything about it. He made exactly the right choice. Isn't that a relief for you? And how's your teaching? I know how hard that can be."
I listen. I listen. I feel like I'm going to throw up so I pull over one of those pink buckets I have lying all around me. But I don't really have to throw up. I WANT to throw up. For the first time I actually want to because maybe that will make sense to me.
"Aha. So teaching is fabulous this year. All and all it's just one hell of a great year. Cool. That is very cool. You deserve it."
I look over at the pink bucket before I ask my next question. I just know vomiting would make everything clearer to me. But it's not happening.
"So tell me about your husband. PERFECT. He's having a perfect year! Oh that is so fantastic. Me? Oh, I'm fine. Really fine. But, oh look, it's getting late. I'd better go. Bye."
I'd better go because otherwise I'm going to beat myself over the head with my pink bucket. No vomit. No throwing up. Just me sitting here with my bucket realizing that I am now defining myself by my sickness and if everything feels even slightly normal than suddenly am I not only NOT a sick person at the moment, I am a nothing person because what have I been doing for the past year except being sick? I can't do my work which is teaching and running this great tutoring program but I can write but what I'm writing essentially is my diary, my blog. Not a play. Not a novel. Not a short story. I'm scribbling. I'm writing nonsense. And people around me are having lives and enjoying them and going to the movies and finishing great works of art and beginning great works of art and I have just been BEING SICK which is boring and nothingness. Not even BEING and nothingness. A lump. I have turned into a lump on a couch. A lump on a couch who is so full of envy for anyone who is having a happy productive life I could scream.
I'm not even going to write about the wrinkles printed out in the title. They are forming as I write this so you can imagine...
But I've got to get over this. It's a waste of time and time is truly of the essense here. My first thought for getting rid of this envy and jealousy is to stop talking or writing to everyone I know. That I way I will never hear good news because good news seems to set off this undesireable emotion. I could move to some city where nobody knows me and I wouldn't know them and I would never ask them about themselves so I'd be safe from envy. Maybe some city where nobody really does anything except go to the 7-11 or the laundremat. Hmmm, this is beginning to sound very comforting.
But wait. Come on. Who am I kidding? I'm bigger than that. I have not lived this long to turn out petty and pathetic and worried that other people's happiness has anything to do with mine. COME ON. I have had plenty of happiness in my life.
Did I say HAD? Had happpiness? That's not good. That assumes that from now on there will be no more happiness. That I have had it already. Why should I assume that? Where is it written?
Now I have to throw up. Excuse me........................................
Ahhhhh. I feel better already. Yes. That is who I am right now. That is what I'm doing. And a damn good job I do in this vomiting business, if I do say so myself. To hell with the O Henry prize for short fiction. Look at what I am doing and how quickly I recover and watch the long brisk walks I take even when my eyes are all blurry and...
Dammitt! How come your life is going well and mine isn't? Huh? Huh? Anyone have an answer to that one? Oh I know. BECAUSE IT JUST IS.
And that is just about the best answer I'm going to get because bad luck and good luck cannot be explained. It just is. But the other answer is JUST DO. A lump is not the way to go. A lump is not who I am. Whatever it is I'm complaining about I can deal with. JUST DO. Do it. What am I waiting for?
Okay, here goes. No more lollygagging around. I'm going to DO it...Yes I am............................ Just as soon as I can uncurl my toes.