Your apartment feels a particular kind of empty, the emptiness that comes of knowing you could be not alone, if things were different. If you were different — or, rather, undifferent in the right ways.
You usually don’t let yourself be sorry for yourself, because it so clearly doesn’t help you get through life as a functional human. However, you’re feeling a deep sinkhole opening in your inner landscape. You sidle up to the jagged edge, look down. There’s a definitive bottom, and you figure you can probably scramble back out of it by Monday, when you need to put on your professional face, which needs to be smooth and seamless.
Okay, you tell yourself. One night. Let’s do this.
You pull out the prepackaged cookie dough you bought while imagining a second stay-in date with the girl, one where you’d bump into each other playfully while baking, bopping each other on the nose with oven mitts. You smash the image, push the pieces of it into the sinkhole ahead of you.
You settle into the couch and put on one of those happy ending romantic movies with the happy, straight, non-disabled people, open the cookie dough, and chow down.
You shout angry things at the characters. Tell them how easy they have it, because they’re not you. You let yourself cry in between noisily licking your fingers. Really cry, the kind that takes up your whole body, that makes your lungs knock against your ribs and curls your toes and leaves your jaw tired from allowing the sadness to escape through it. Alone, alone, alone, your mind chants. Broken. Unlovable. Alone.
You finish the movie and the cookie dough, and lie back on the couch, watch the ceiling like a blank theater screen, dredge up your own scenes you usually don’t allow yourself to play. The day you were diagnosed, lights in your eyes sharp like blades, your mother crying. The day you crashed your car, peeled yourself away from the bright pink air bag, limped out of the vehicle crushed like a soda can, realized you would never have the independence of driving yourself again. The afternoon, two years into your undergrad degree, when you opened a book and it was too painful to make out more than a few sentences, your eyes refusing to resolve the letters into sense.
Sick from too much sugar and too much of everything, really, you fall asleep like this, on your back, mouth open to the dark.
The next morning, despite not setting an alarm, you manage to wake up by eight, and the sun is filtering yellow and possible through your living room windows. Your neck is stiff and your mouth is sticky, but you slept hard like you haven’t in months. You have the hollowed-out lightness of having expelled something ugly and heavy. Nothing is different, of course, but the sharpness of last night has diminished, become manageable. You stretch. Put feet to the floor.
You clean up the flecks of cookie dough from the coffee table, fluff the pillows, wash your face, talk yourself into eating the protein and fiber cereal for breakfast instead of the sugary one because it’s good for you, do dishes, stuff your clothes from last night deep into the laundry basket so you don’t have to look at them. You breathe, this part of yourself completely under your control, the steady pull and release, pull and release.