Monday, Jan. 28, 2019 @ 11:52 pm
As I walk towards the office in the morning, I realize that I don't have my story straight. People are going to be asking why I'm here, at this office. I struggle to come up with something that I can say without feeling false. Visiting family? Personal reasons? I'm opening the door to the office building, and I'm starting to panic. There is someone I know at the elevator. Their face breaks into a smile.
I spend the day testing out different versions of my truth. I gauge reactions, and I tell more to the ones who know me well enough to see through my words.
In a ironic coincidence, the company website is running a story about my award on the front page. People are coming up to me and congratulating me, and it's this bizarre sense of feeling simultaneously loved and ashamed.
Being here feels like a soft landing. Gentle voices tell me to stay and work from here as long as is necessary. So many smiles and hugs. But shame hovers over me like a brooding cloud. I can step out from under it at times, but it tends to move back in when I am looking the other direction.
At lunch, I sit in a cafe by the window, taking in all of the city life. I am wearing a slim blazer that makes me feel adult and successful and suede booties that are entirely impractical for mountain weather. My hair is a mess. I eavesdrop on a conversation - a woman is talking about her scoby collection for making kombucha. A man sits beside me at the counter and eats. He doesn't acknowledge me. I phone my old hairdresser and book an appointment for 7pm.
Out of the blue, Jeremy emails me. He's never emailed me. I haven't seen him since we hiked out to the lake in the National Park last summer. I read his message and respond immediately. He saw the article about me on my company's website in a twist of happenstance. We email back and forth a few times in quick response. I think about him reading my words and typing a response. I love how he writes; it is exactly like how he is in person. Why is this happening today?
I leave work and make my way to the hairdressers. Mild night, sidewalks busy. Coconut scented air wafts from the swinging door of a tanning salon. A row of women giving other women pedicures. Pizza slices drying out under heat lamps. People swarming over a sale table in a shoe store. A homeless man laying on greasy cardboard in the midst of it all.
I enter the salon, and I see Michelle, and as we make eye contact her face softens and she smiles. My god, I didn't know how much I missed her. She calls out hello, and I break into tears at the sound of her voice. I am home.
She runs her hands through my hair. Plays with the length. Asks how I'm doing. Tells me what she's going to do, given the circumstances. I tell her that I'm not good with decisions right now, and that I trust her to do the right thing.
My hair falls away under her scissors. Clumps slide down the black cape and onto the floor. Anxiety builds inside of me. The more hair that falls onto the floor, the more I want to grab back to re-attach to my head. She dries and straightens the results. I look in the mirror and know in my heart that she did the right thing, but I'm still struggling with the loss. I understand that this is not about my hair, but I don't have the energy to do the inner work. I give her a 30% tip and hug her goodbye.
"Good luck," she says, "And I hope you find a soft place to land."
At home, I sit at the table and eat a late supper. My phone buzzes with a text.
I'm looking for a soft place to land
The forest floor
The palms of your hands
I'm looking for a soft place to land