I made a round at Duane Reade to buy four critical things: hair dye to make me blonde again, as this was pulling at my mood, advil for the headache, and some of those little gel pads for blisters which are the best things in the world. I would still be at church on time. Everything was going my way except I had a headache after sleeping fitfully way too long.
I stood up at the podium, and two ladies out there looked at me wrong. I was the wrong week. I was the wrong week. “Am I?” I said, heartily not wanting to lead the service at all, with the headache I had. “It’s okay, you can do it,” someone said. “Go ahead.” Then I started sweating.
The prayer book words I was wading through, the phrases so softly curled and snugly fit together, but the back of my mind was running a whole other track: Can’t you look at the schedule? Can’t you just look at the fucking schedule? Is that too much for me? I knew it was too much for me, as I do this all the time. Keeping track of when I am supposed to serve at church, and what I am supposed to do, is too much for me. I do my week of work, I collapse, I crawl out on Saturday, and all I can do is show up and tell people I’ll do whatever.
“I didn’t think you’d be here,” someone said afterward, which sounded accusatory. Jesus.
“I didn’t need to be here,” someone else said, which sounded even more accusatory, at least to someone cranky and paranoid.
Why couldn’t I just look at the schedule they sent, the email, and put it all on my calendar, and then look at the calendar, well, I was confused about when I was supposed to do altar guild, and lead, as opposed to just read the lessons and help the priest wash her hands.
The best things in the world are those blister pads, they stay on forever and you can keep wearing the shoes that gave you a blister, you can painlessly break your shoes in, and get to wear those new shoes you paid money for, of course you want to wear them. I discovered them when I moved here, city of the hurting feet. I stopped and unzipped my boot and pulled down my sock and pulled the paper off of one of the pads and stuck it on my ankle. Bliss.
I feel like in a dream, leading, serving the service. Better and emptier of myself, but also not real. Bigger, but beside myself, which feels only half right.
Perhaps my most impressive blisters were from Rome. Shoes that had never bothered me gave me blisters in the Frankfurt airport as I changed planes. I ended up wearing Roman-bought flip flops my whole trip, and they gave me new and prodigious blisters, one of which I gazed at in horror, my foot up on the bulkhead wall on my flight home.
I took myself to the Brooklyn Museum today. When I am down, here, I do an only-in-New York. There was a show about Coney Island. Paintings of the area before it was built on, paintings of leisurely old-fashioned people, photos of the ’50s fun, the ’70s danger, the ’80s crumbling, the current one-legged energy of the place.
My favorite were the shooting gallery pieces. The Brooklyn Museum is half art, half life objects we will treat as art as if we are an exotic tribe. You get a gun. The things circle, one way or another, hit the diamond, the rabbit, the spade. Ka-chunk.
I will read the schedule carefully and put it in my calendar and look at my calendar. I will do what I am asked and not fret about emotions I imagine other people to have. I will apply the gel adhesive pads when my ankle hurts. I will crank down the radiator before I go to sleep so it will not make the ghost banging noises so I can sleep better.