Sometimes I make myself sick because I worry too much. Other things contribute like what seemed to be movie theater popcorn but I am convinced my brain is the likely culprit of all my bodily illness. When I felt better, we wrapped ourselves in layers of flannel and walked to do errands. I didn’t brush my hair but I did put on lipstick.
I’m glad the 90s are coming back, I said. I thought of the glimpses I got of it when MTV was still a network, when I had saved my allowance to buy my first cd: The Bends by Radiohead. It’s still in my car.
I’m not ready for the 90s to come back around, you said.
It doesn’t matter, they’re coming.
You got something with whipped cream, I got coffee that was rough on my fragile stomach. I made a list on my receipt of all the things I had to do for school and teared up right there in public. You reached a hand under the table to place it on my knee.
Are you okay, you asked.
I don’t know. I just have so much to do, it’s gotten all backed up.
You’ll get it done, you said with a squeeze of my knee.
I wish I were a better adult. I wish I wasn’t feeling all the things that have fallen apart lately so much.
That wouldn’t make you an adult, it would make you a robot.
Well, I want to be a robot who isn’t falling behind in one class.
Retake it next semester.
There’s no time.
There’s always time.
Not in some cases, I said and you knew what I referred to.
I dropped the one class I had failed to keep up with amidst a whole sea of other classes, glittering with their A’s. You still looked at me.
You’re too hard on yourself, you said. You’re human, if you weren’t distracted by the things that hurt you, I don’t think you’d be who you are. There’s no schedule, relax.
I looked down with wet eyes and read for class. You wrote an article and I listened to the noises in the shop. The Internet told me it was the tenth anniversary of the release of Kid A and I felt old. I scrolled to it on my iPhone and thought about physically buying the cd and playing it over and over in my room. Ten years since Everything In Its Right Place; ten years and little in its right place.
I thought about the kinds of posters in elementary school classrooms, things that said, you can’t control what happens to you but you can control how you react to it. That’s kind of bullshit. You can’t always control that. It’s not that it’s a bad thing, it just makes you like everyone else. Time does teach you that you’re not the special snowflake your parents claimed you are. You’re a snowflake alright but sometimes you’ll melt, too. My insides hurt and relaxed all at once at this realization.
We left and bought groceries for dinner, Halloween candy for every meal. I squished a small gummi skull in between my thumb and index finger.
Brains, I said as red goo oozed out.
We picked out a pumpkin at an Asian market. I ran my hand over each smooth orange surface, finally settling on one with a very lovely handle. I picked up a carving kit so we wouldn’t almost chop off our fingers like last year. I insisted on carrying it on one hip like a baby.
My aunt was the first person who ever carved a pumpkin with me, I said as we walked. My mom always thought I’d hurt myself or make a mess so she did it herself.
You didn’t say anything.
She let me get dirty and we carved a zombie on it, i continued with smile. You have a lot to live up to.
I’ll give you an army of zombies, you grinned.
We walked home quietly on what finally felt like a fall evening in New York City. I felt my lungs burn with cool air and bubble with possibility. A family passed in this big city and I took comfort in the fact that I was no more somebody than anyone else. No pressure but time with its whistle and its leaves reminding me there was much to see and all the world to do it in.
This was almost three years ago and most things have changed, especially me, but I still worry; I’m just slightly better at knowing what to worry about.