I set my alarm for 7 AM, convinced I will be ambitious enough to want to go to the gym before work. The sky is a vibrant blue, almost teal color, through my window shades. I close my eyes, only half inspired, and fall asleep for another hour.
At 8:03 I brush my teeth. I eat my gluten-free bread and drink my expensive pasteurized orange juice. I fill a mug my friend gave me for Christmas with the equivalent of two cups of coffee, adjusted with soymilk and stevia powder according to my taste or lack thereof. The outside of the cup reads “Genius.” There is a chip on the lip. I saved the piece with the intention of gluing it back on but never did and now I don’t know where that piece is. My life is kind of like this.
I fill up another two-cup cup of coffee and drink it quickly while smearing makeup on my face in the way a child might – untrained and careless. Pink cheeks, mascara, chapstick. My outfit consists of a highly and needlessly complex combination of layered undergarments, hot pants, and a sheer top. I will only wear this ensemble for twenty-seven minutes combined all day; once I get to my job I wear someone else’s.
The designer’s office occupies an entire floor of a building. It’s like a sherbet penthouse. Orange walls, Astroturf-green carpet, hot pink chairs. Women walk around wearing the clothes and the shoes of the same designer. Little gold round buckles. Patterns. Blonde hair. Everyone here is nice.
We change in a large closet that is cold like a walk-in refrigerator. I drink two hot coffees from the community kitchen. They have soymilk in the fridge. I try on more clothes. Eat fruit. Switch between sandals and boots. Try on jackets and knitwear. Blue jeans, white jeans. I grab lunch from across the street, basking in the hot and humid outside air for thirty seconds each way. I buy roasted brussels sprouts and cauliflower. Both are good but greasy.
I try on more clothes. Read the New Yorker. Listen to the girl I’m working with read punch lines from her iPhone. And then, at four, I am done.
For the first ten minutes out of the lobby I begin to thaw, soaking up heat like an arid sponge. I’m happy. Days like this are good. Days when people are nice to you. Days when you don’t feel as much like a useless coat hanger. These are the days I am thankful that this is my job, at least for now…until it is not my job anymore. I walk down the street with the same energy I had walking into the job, something that isn’t necessarily a given. In fact, it is rare.
Above, cloud cover provides some relief from the potentially oppressive ninety-degree heat. People walk around at a pace slightly more lively than dead … increasingly optimistic about their day on account of shade and shade alone.
I pass Fishes Eddy on 23rd Street. My mom and I found this place back in 2002. She bought a mug with the Manhattan skyline on it and cardboard coasters of a similar print. That was before I ever lived here. Years and a lifetime ago. I walk inside for the sake of nostalgia and partial necessity. I buy a cobalt blue porcelain tray for loose change and a large cream bowl on sale for $11.95.
Back out into the heat I go.
The Green Market is open and I walk towards the peaks its white tents. A plastic bizarre. I buy three succulents that remind me of home. Not home in Manhattan but home on Poinsettia Place.
The man who sells vegetarian empanadas is not there which is a shame because I would rather like one right now. A crew of three girls walk by; their collective “look” harkening back to the days of MC Hammer’s entourage mixed with a little bit of MIA flavor for contemporary measure. Tight black pants, afro-mohawks bleached blonde, black and silver sunglasses, and legs for days. I can almost hear “Can’t Touch This” trailing behind them.
I buy two half-gallons of soymilk and some freshly ground almond butter from Whole Foods. I take the N train down to Price Street, balancing my heavy bag of porcelain with a tray of succulents and a carton of the aforementioned soymilk. I pray that the almond butter doesn’t leak into my purse, which is something that could feasibly happen to me and I’m surprised it hasn’t happened to me already. I walk back home with a stupid smile on my face. Stupid because nothing about today really mattered. There was no grand event. No particularly special moment. Just a good and easy day, free of annoyance and anxiety and berating thoughts and all the free (albeit excessive) air conditioning I could ask for.
I continue my attempt at sidewalk juggling as I open the door to my apartment building, at which point my SIGG water bottle jumps out of my bag, viciously attacking my succulents and toppling them to the ground in a one-sided battle. “Oh, no!” I quietly lament, scraping black bits of dirt off of a dirty stoop back into their rightful home around the delicate roots of my verdant memories. And as if the universe is attempting to salvage the lowest moment of my lovely day, a fireman from across the street calls me “Miss” and asks if I need some help. I decline, stating that my problem is only a “mild cacti tragedy.” He walks away and I make a mental note that I accurately pluralized “cactus” in a fleeting conversation with a stranger. I then acknowledge that most of the words that come out of my mouth are verbose and obtuse and make me sound like a fucking nerd cramming for her AP English exam. But that’s okay. I’m growing into myself quite nicely, I should think.