With a gray funk over my head, I swerved through Sunday, Monday, Tuesday. I thought I knew why at first, so I didn’t dwell on it. I searched for light misdirection and any harmless whim within my slim powers to fulfill. I tried to be my best friend, but I rebuffed myself at every turn. I don’t suffer ingrates well and the urge to take myself aside and slap some sense into me, began to hover arm in arm with that persistent gray. Wednesday morning my irritation threatened to consume me the very moment I was scooped out from the temporary solace of a sweet dream, after another night of too little sleep. I began to analyze in earnest. The logical reasons were out of whack body chemistry, lack of sleep, or a sudden wakening from positive thinking to the cold, hard realities of life. Since focusing on the cold, hard monsters has never lifted me out of their hungry jaws, I went about trying to self soothe again, but it didn’t work.
I was in the middle of trying to approach my homework on a promising new project, when (swerve!) I shot into a flurry of small chores instead — feed cat, clean her box, corral trash. I was in the bathroom when I found myself staring at the open window. I’d known since last Friday, from several news outlets, that the weather was going to change that night and get very close to freezing. My ex-husband had got the (brilliant) idea, when we were first married, to change the bathroom window so it opened down from the top. (We were sick of the view the people next door had of anything either of us did in there when the light backlit us through the curtain, or whenever the wind blew it open.) I’d been unable to get enough force under the new handles at the top to get the window open or closed, so I’ve had to pay the handyman in the next block a little something to help me with it when the weather changes drastically. I usually try to have something else for him to do at the same time, like some heavier bags of garbage to take to the alley, but it seems silly when I’m not a weakling and I’m not made of money. I’m rarely able to pay him what his work is worth and there’s a long list of things that go wrong here, so it’s not that I begrudge him a fiver. He’s trying to get along on not enough, just as I am, but still I stared at that window and found a fiery anger coming down through the gray cloud.
I went to get my step ladder to try it for myself one last time. I’m no scientist, but as I worked at it to no avail, it occurred to me that it wasn’t so much me having become a weakling, as it seemed that the step ladder put me too high at the top step, and a little too low at the next one down. Well, I turned into a madwoman then, lobbing curses at the thing like Hermione Granger in a snit (more to vent the anger than to actually damn the thing to hell.) I thrust the handles hard from side to side and jiggled them front to back, back and forth, and lo and behold it began to give. I began to smile. It took maybe five minutes of diligence that way to slowly inch the window up enough to save myself from 40 degree Fahrenheit torture for the next few days.
As I put away the step ladder and became the real me again, sans soul-sucking darkness, I realized that I’m so completely not the hothouse flower I was labeled as when I was younger. My gentleness was often mistaken for so much “girlie” weakness, so freaking often in fact, that it’s been hard to separate that stupidity from my self-image. It may be sensitivity that made a sticky window drag me down simply for what it represented about my life, but it was my natural strength and desire to take care of myself that made me figure out how to make it move. I don’t think it’s weak to get help when it’s needed, but today I didn’t need it, and I can’t begin to say how good that feels.