Genre: Inspirational Romance
Ever woke up feeling that you have felt everything there is to feel, that there is nothing new to feel, well maybe except pain, you always feel pain and sadness but otherwise just a numbness the shape of all the things you should be feeling? That is me today numb.
I am numb or maybe I am just hungry right now. The green display of the clock is flashing SAT. 11:02A.M. I just woke up and I am running a mental inventory of my current state of being, with the exact scrutiny that a pilot runs the final preflight checklist, especially the way planes have been lately. If there is a season and a time for everything then this is the age that planes fell from the sky, even my little has long since shelved her dreams of being a pilot preferring something more grounded, like being a Disney princess. My thoughts casually drifted to back when, that ill-fated flight 370 that disappeared, four years later and still no one knows exactly what happened or where it disappeared to. I could not help but think that, maybe the black smoke from the TV series Lost is real, how else do you explain a whole plane simply going missing but I digress, I have the imagination of a TV series script writer, and I wake up to improbable thoughts.
Where was I? Oh yes, mental inventory, I was doing system diagnostic of my current sate of being.
Hungry……..processing as I tried to decide if I was hungry or bored; almost on cue my stomach made the sound of a dying baby whale, not that I know what a dying baby whale sounds like, but the script writer imagination had its uses. The sound helped put things in to perspective, I am definitely hungry and possibly hung-over. Just at the edge of my awareness I suddenly realised what had been bothering, I hadn’t yet put my finger but smoke.
Smoke, I smell smoke, stale cigarette smoke, coming from my clothes and hair. I had gone to bed wearing last night’s clothes and they were all wrinkled up and the answer just popped into my head like a whisper from some voice in my head “that’s because we want to a pub last night”.
I should shower.
It hurts when I think.
Why does it hurt when I think? Oh! headache, so yes I am hungover and hungry, that explained everything, last night, I went out with with the guys, for one or two drinks which turned out to be maybe a little too much judging from how I felt and why I was only just now waking up at eleven in the morning, almost noon.
Last night was a crazy night I cannot remember with friends I cannot forget, I will have to call them up today find out what mischief we got ourselves into and how did I get home? I closed my eyes to shut out the pain and to also try to recall how I got home. I remembered something about a cab driver. Do I owe a cabby money? I suddenly worried because I also remembered I didn’t have the exact taxi fare. No, I settled the bill difference in kind, I gave him the remainder of a very aged, and much distilled, very expensive and single malt scotch whiskey.
Mind you, I am not of the habit of paying cab drivers with half full bottles of obscenely priced whiskey but yesterday was an exception, we were out celebrating, who knows what good fortune merited the occasion. I tried to concentrate, almost had it when my stomach rudely interrupted derailing my train of thought by demanding to be fed. I could feel a big hole in my stomach, a whole that lived and breathed and wanted sustenance.
“Feed me,” it growled with the regal imperative of one used to being obeyed.
Last night I went straight to bed without eating, I just took off my shoes and climbed into bed socks and all; although only one sock, the left one, was still there, the other having been snatched by the monster that lived beneath the bed. You know the one, the monster that comes and grabs any part of you that dangles over the edge of the bed while you sleep. That’s why you have to tuck yourself in properly when you sleep, so the monster doesn’t get you. The house was eerily silent, maybe the monster that stole my sock also stole all the sound in the house.
The silence of a house with no electricity, when there is no humming of the fridge, or the sonic high pitched sound of a TV on standby. The only sound that would have broken the silence, would have been the ticking of the wall clock, but it was a battery operated affair of the digital variety, instead I heard my heartbeat or at least I fancied that I heard it, making a nice sturdy lub dub lub dup sound. I need a dictionary or translator because clearly those people who tell you to listen to your heart, do they know what lub dub even means? There was no electricity, because it was in the middle of a load shedding exercise by the power utility company. If the schedule was to be trusted the electricity would come online in an hour or maybe much later, because the schedule was never to be trusted. Small wonder I was bored, the silence was deafening.
The big green display now read SAT 11:03A.M. So only a minute had passed since I last looked at the clock, it felt like it had been a lifetime already, time flies when you are having fun they say and conversely when you are not, it moves achingly slow. As you can tell my mind moves in a somewhat non-linear fashion, maybe I am a genius like that evil scientist who made the first bomb, Frank Stein or something, I am sure he thought to himself in the third person too. I used to have a poster of him sticking his tongue out, I think it means that it is ok to be crazy.
A good thing my head is attached to my body, by skin, bones and stuff otherwise, it would just float away, who knows, leaving me running around like a headless chicken, until I probably died of starvation because I would not have a mouth to eat with.
The pursuit of joy, that is what I had been on about last night, but I can most assuredly declare that happiness does not lie at the bottom of a bottle of single malt whiskey, no matter how expensive it is. Money can buy expensive things, and that illusion of happiness, envied by those without it, acquired by people rich enough to buy and appreciate curious artefacts. With thoughts like that I bet would not make a pile of money as an author of self-help motivational books. Though I suspect a book titled The Pursuit Of Joy would be interesting I thought as I filed this thought in my had where I stored all the brilliant ideas I had and never acted upon.
You see I am a slacker, or rather, I have not yet come across anything, which quickens my pulse, so that I do more than just what needs to be done. I am always behind schedule, chasing deadlines and I never plan ahead, but it works for me because I am always thinking and I am at my best form under pressure, as they say, I think on my feet. Who is “They” and who decided that they know all of life’s hacks, shortcuts and answers?
The answers to all of life’s questions are ridiculously easy if you know the answers, but most of us don’t know what we are doing and like to walk around pretending everything is going according to plan making the rest of us fumbling mortals feel super bad, I thought as I sighed, closing my eyes and breathing deeply. A Breath Technician once told half of life’s problems could be solved if we simply learned to breathe properly.
On that last thought I must have fallen back asleep because next thing, I woke up with a start, the power must have come back on, with the radio blaring electronic dance music at high volume. A song was playing which sounded like a violin being played backwards in slow motion, using a blunt carving knife, cutting painfully through the chords, one at a time. Perhaps it might not have been that bad but it resonated at the same natural frequency as my headache, because it was now pounding in earnest.
I muted the radio, staggered to the bathroom, found pain medication in the medicine cabinet above the sink, as my bathroom mirror reflection watched me probably in disapproval or was it sympathy. I swallowed the pills and cupped my hand to collect water from the sink, to chase down the painkillers. To be honest I didn’t trust people who just swallowed pills with no water at all.
I needed a shower.
My arms were covered with ink stamps from the various clubs we had been to last night, I looked like I had been a canvas for a five year old with a fistful of crayons and a whole lot of inspiration. The ink washed away as I bathed, disappearing, as if it had never been there, if only some of life’s regrets could be washed away with foam bath and water, like yesterday’s sweat, that would be joy.
After my post bathing pleasantries, I chose to be happy, sometimes you have to choose it’s a not a matter of spontaneous combustion, you have to set yourself on fire. What do the proverbial they say again, “fake it till you make it?” I smiled,
“I smell good, I look good and I feel good.” starring at the mirror I had to agree,
“Your reflection does look better when you have Joy.”
Those words, I had a moment of déjà vu someone said them to me or I said them to someone; last night, I tried to recall, then the moment was gone, the memory eluded me. Warming up left-overs in the kitchen, I realised last night I must have binged on the meat, leaving only gravy and bread, so I settled for that with a cup of coffee spiked with some cocoa powder, it tasted like childhood memories, happy ones.
My phone rang, but it took a couple of rings for me to realise it, the ringtone was different, a pop upbeat love song. I do remember most definitely not having that song in my phone. When I think of Valentine’s Day I can imagine people with heart-shaped designs for eyes like cartoon characters. February, when love is in the air, and I would be the one guy wearing a full body hazmat suit, so as not to catch it. For someone who claims I do not believe in love, I am more sentimental than the cynic I pretend to be. The phone call was from one of the guys calling to check if I was still alive, that I had not woken up dead having overdosed or died in my sleep, the kind of friends that call to see if you make it home safe.
After the phone conversation, I had a better idea of my puzzle pieces that was yesterday, prudence dictates that I start from the beginning.
The beginning is that I like to be alone, but I like to be alone in the company of other people, lost in my own thoughts. I was hanging out with my friends celebrating their various achievements, one friend had recently sealed a lucrative business deal, which explained the expensive whiskey. I always make appropriate congratulatory noises, but frankly I never celebrate my accomplishments because I always get what I set out to get and it never makes me happy though I can pretend, smile on all the right prompts, blended.
Maybe I don’t know how to be happy or I am missing a happiness gene, I was just the watcher. I watched, I watched how real people behaved in case I ever wrote a book I sometimes imagined I was that clever emotionless character from Star Trek.
I was watching as usual, when I saw her, she saw me, everything fell into place, as if it had all been leading to this moment, I feel like a cliché but the rest of the evening, time flew in a blur of pleasantries, and coincidences. Discovering common uncommon traits in a random stranger like they are another version of you, maybe that is what a soul mate is, someone who reads the same weird books by obscure authors, listens to music on the B side of albums not the hits, just like you be content with companionable silence and not have the need to fill it up with meaningless words.
I remember she took my phone and saved her number, that is when she must have changed the ringtone, I remember lots of smiles and a kiss goodnight, I do not remember her name.
I grabbed my phone scrolled through the contacts hoping one might light up something, but there’s over five hundred entries and I am only in touch with a handful of people and the rest well I just have their numbers saved, who knows when you might need to call that one guy who claims to be a witch doctor or hook up free satellite TV subscriptions. I laughed, I couldn’t stop, I laughed till I cried, I can’t remember the last time I really laughed.
Life, if it gave you lemons, you really needed to stop doing drugs, because life did not go around giving people fruit. I laughed some more at my wit and it hit me this was me being happy, when everyone was gone you were the only one left and you made yourself happy, you grew your own flowers, that was joy.
Last night, I saw her, she saw me, the cliché and I said “I am looking for joy that lasts forever”
“You happen to be in luck___” she had replied.
My phone rang, jarring my senses back to the present, the screen lit up:
That was her name, Joy.
“You happen to be in luck because I am Joy and I have been waiting for you to stop running so I could catch you.” That was how she had introduced herself last night.
I smiled, I always smile when I answer the phone, I read somewhere it could be felt in your voice. Joy was never chased or sought, she was the butterfly who came freely and landed on your palm, and my new chapter begun, the happily ever after.
Day 17 Of My Blog Everyday Challenge themed Africa: Stories From Home