There’s a large package propped by the front door.
“What’s in the package?” I ask David.
“A surprise!” An obvious tease.
With a hmmph! I walk on by.
The door is in the middle of the house. As my activities range from one side of the house to the other, it’s no exaggeration to say I pass by the door a hundred times a day.
The package is still there the next time I cross the central area. I’ll spend the day in a befuddled fog if that package remains there much longer.
“Are you going to tell me what’s in the package?” I ask once more.
“That’s for me to know and you to find out.” Funny because it’s childish.
“That box can’t live there forever,” I tell him next time I pass it. If it’s still there in five minutes I’ll stow it in the garage.
He’s doing it to bug me. He knows how I am—obsessive, picky, unwavering in my need for organization.
For instance, since I was stupid enough to buy socks with designated right and left feet, I’m now compelled to make sure I get each one on the appropriate foot. Every once in a while I’ll forget to check, and when I realize I’ve got them wrong I’ll take the socks off and switch them, though any sensible person knows there’s no such thing as a right or left sock.
“You’re the last person who should have bought socks meant for specific feet,” David says.
He’s right. What was I thinking—that I needed yet another thing to obsess over?
My yoga mat must always run parallel with the lines of the floor. And if the mat in front of me doesn’t also line up, it’s a distraction during the whole class. I’ve been known to ask strangers to straighten their mats.
A picture hanging crookedly is troublesome on a subliminal level.
And dirty glasses and dishes belong in the sink or dishwasher; never on the counter, which is to remain clean and clutter-free.
Let it go, people say. It sounds easy, but it never is.
These days I’m obsessed with whether or not Old Buildings in North Texas and its author will be invited to participate in the Texas Book Festival, which would be a huge honor, a monumental step in my career, a justification for the hours and effort.
Notices go out until the end of August. I check my inbox first thing every morning. Sometimes, when I wake up in the night, I’m strongly tempted to kick back the covers, traverse the width of the house, and have a quick peek; but I’m not yet that far gone, though throughout the day I don’t go fifteen minutes without checking my computer or phone.
I remind myself of what I know: I have no control over this. I’ll either be invited or not, and fixating will make no difference.
The one thing I do have control over is the way I react to the situation, and this is exactly what I’d preach if a friend or family member were behaving as foolishly as I am.
However, the question mark concerning the book fair has branded itself into the precise area of my brain that regulates my day-to-day thoughts, so that whatever I do and wherever I go, it’s always there, throbbing and demanding attention, until not only have I lost control of where my mind goes, but also every other aspect of my existence—I’m eating too much, drinking too much, unable to step away from my devices, and not even fully present when I drive.
“I’m going to meet Tom at the Double Horn for a beer,” David says. “You want to come?”
The Double Horn, a local microbrewery, is always a good time. And Tom knows everybody in town, so there’re always interesting things to learn.
I say no. But I don’t tell David it’s because my hopes and expectations are consuming me to the point where I’m almost paralyzed; and that drinking a beer with friends would be impossible for me right now. I’m unable to relax, unable to track other people’s stories, unable to finish household projects. Unable to write.
I miss my dog.