Monday, February 20, 2012
Slowing down without Melting down
Moving plans are unfolding. Celia and her mother went to her mother’s house to pack it up over the holiday weekend while Rob was left behind to finalize details on their new house purchase.
Rob could not actually remember the last day he had not worked at one of his two jobs. Christmas day, maybe. But he was off today, Presidents’ Day, and he was home alone to boot. He had awakened early, taken a slow, cold jog, and rewarded himself with a hot shower while his coffee brewed. Rob enjoyed that the Starbucks job, rather than making him hate coffee, had increased his appreciation of it. He could no longer tolerate the stuff Celia bought at the grocery store.
He poured his coffee, turned on Pandora to his U2 station, sat down on the sofa to surf the sports news online, and sighed. For about thirty seconds he looked at college basketball scores before he set aside his computer and stood up.
The moment he did, he wondered why he had gotten up. He sat down again and tried to focus on the scores, but something in his body kept telling him that there was something undone that needed to be done. He stood up again and wandered into the kitchen, picking up a sponge and wiping around the fixtures at the sink. After a moment he bent down, pulled out some cleanser from beneath the sink. Sprinkling some on the sponge, he attacked an errant speck of grime…
This is crazy, he thought. I work all the time. Today is my day to rest.
But Rob could not sit still, as if his body no longer knew how not to work. Even when he had evenings off, he had been helping out Celia, who was six months pregnant now and more tired than usual, or attending to new house details.
“I really can’t relax,” he said out loud to his empty apartment. Maybe watching a movie would help. He put away the stuff he had been using at the sink and returned to the living room to look through their very small DVD collection. He pulled out Iron Man.
“OK,” he continued out loud to no one as he turned off the music. “Spending the morning with Robert Downey Jr. and Gwyneth Paltrow. How bad can that be?”
At least the movie kept him planted on the sofa. He kinda-sorta watched it while looking at scores and reading the news. He really didn’t do much of that anymore beyond headlines.
About an hour into the movie, Celia called. He was relieved to be distracted.
“We’re having car trouble,” she said. “We stopped so I could go to the bathroom again but the car won’t start.”
How does Rob respond?