In the next 24 hours I have 3 papers to write, a book to re-read, and a shower probably to take.
The stress was exaggerated by a really strange day. A protest was happening on campus, I failed a pop quiz in French Film, (It's in FRENCH. It's HARD. Yes, maybe there are English subtitles, but WHO CAN READ THAT FAST? NOT ME APPARENTLY.) I got to my internship only to hear that someone young in the department had tragically died over the weekend, and after that I sort of walked around in a haze, helping to make arrangements for a memorial service. It got me thinking about mortality, obviously, and I realized I tempt death every single day. I never look when I cross the street- I rely solely on that walking man signal, like it's the star that led the wise men to Jesus or something. I eat at a Korean-Italian-Hungarian deli pretty often, I fall down (and up,) stairs, I let a strange man in to my locked building, (well, he said he forgot his keys, but IT IS A LOCKED BUILDING FOR A REASON, the security aspect sort of goes out the window if I am escorting strangers inside like I'm hosting a damn party.) In short, the whole thing made me feel shaken, vulnerable, and sick to my stomach. When I got home and discovered that a watch I had ordered had finally come in, I sat down to put it on-discovered it was way too big- and promptly burst in to tears.
That watch thing really did me in. Forget about facing mortality.
It's amazing how things spiral out of control once the floodgates were open. A bump on the back of my head became a deadly skull infection, (is there even such a thing?) My broken sliding glass door in my house was an open invitation to all the thugs in the neighborhood, I felt a sharp pain in my breast when bending over to get something and sent a message to a friend that literally said something along the lines of: "Hey, how are you? You know what is funny? In the last 20 minutes I have convinced myself I have breast cancer." I just couldn't stop myself. The bony fingers of fear had wrapped their way around my slight normalcy and they were choking the shit out of it.
The crescendo of the evening, (oh yeah, there's more,) came when Brett and I discovered that we had lost my reservations to fly out this upcoming weekend. Especially (in my warped mind) in the face of death the thought of not seeing my husband became unbearable. We called every airline asking if they had my info. Nada. Nothing. I did not exist in airplane world! My entire name, my plans, my life- all seemed to disappear in a puff of insanity. Even Brett was panicking, and when he panics I PAY ATTENTION. This is a man that is never even ruffled, and he married ME, so when the man gets panicked, THE WORLD IS ABOUT TO BASICALLY END.
It turns out I didn't exist. He had made the reservations in my new married name...and we forgot that I was now...well, sort of a different person. He chuckled nervously in to the phone, "Isn't it funny?" he asked. "I mean, we were looking for a different name. No one had that. They had the new you...the one that belongs with me. The one that shares my name."
Suddenly the death rot on my skull and the pains in my chest and the fear of sitting-in-the-sun deli food became ridiculous. I can't change the fact that I get food poisoning more than any one I know. I can't change the fact I may have somehow caused a lump to grow on the side of my head from one of my many falls. Life is not ever a permanent thing. We are not guaranteed longevity. A tragedy can make us spin our wheels as we look closely at all of the things we are afraid of...because we are afraid to leave.
What I'm saying is a fear of death- of ceasing- is sort of a blessing in disguise. It reminds us that we have something here worth sticking around for. New names, old loves, caloric food, laughter and life and moments that wrap their webs around our souls and love us despite our awkwardness.
I guess I'm lucky to feel the things I felt today: a thrum of pain, a wave of panic, and then relief; gorgeous and sweet, shared with a man who loves me. If I'm feeling all of these things...it means I am still here...
Skull infection and all.