Standing on the subway platform with three bags and sore feet, I leaned against the railing, closed my eyes and tried not to give into the frustrated tears that had been building for a few hours. I played the same mantra over and over: Deep breath, LB. You’re going to be okay. Everything is just fine. The more I said these things the less true they became, and at that moment, a fat tear dangled precariously at the tip of my left eyelid, not enough to spill over yet but already far too much. Deep breath, LB. Cycle through the things you can hold onto: you just had a great day at work. You’re about to see little miss for the first time in three days. And the subway finally arrived.
In spite of a day that started with a final snuggle from R’s pooch, a very welcome run-in with a blast from the past and a successful five hours in various meetings at my client’s office, I couldn’t shake the morose mood that had taken over. Sometimes it’s hard not to internalize a problem when it’s just stress, lack of sleep and a disrupted schedule messing with your state of mind. I’ve had to work hard in my adult life to fight back at the anxieties that rise like a tidal wave, looking so small from far away until “far away” has swept you away completely. The last few weeks I was able to push back, hold steady to the mantra that I’m in control, but as I stood on that platform watching time tick, tick by, waiting for the train for two, five, ten minutes, I gave in just a little, enough for that one tear to fall as I stepped onto the long ride home.
The problem with giving in to anxieties on days like this is they supersede rationality, making me forget that my head probably hurts because I haven’t eaten anything besides a few slices of cheese in nine hours and not, as I’ll convince myself, that I’m bad at my job. I’ll forget that my schedule has been keeping me from going to the gym as often as I’d like, and tell myself it’s my fault for being lazy, and that I’ll probably wipe out at the Spartan race this June. I’ll forget all of the positive things I’ve done for myself in the past few months, and listen to the nagging voice in my head that says it’s my fault that I’m single and will probably die alone with my cat
I finally stepped off the subway into the cool spring night, breathing in the familiar scent of Washington Heights welcoming me back, all Latin food, stale cigars and fresh fruit from the stands. As I walked home, I had this grand plan of putting Taylor Swift on the stereo, catching up on Vogue and crying about nothing and everything. I needed to let myself give in to the anxieties for just a moment, just a night, so I could work past them and move on. And yet, as I settled down with the Kimye cover, “Last Kiss” flooding the apartment like slow molasses, I found myself humming along and smiling, feeling memories and a soft nostalgia warm my angry, frustrated self. As the music picked up, so did my mood, and all of a sudden I was dancing with the cat alone in the apartment, singing into the remote without paying attention to the tune, throwing my hair Willow Smith style and feeling just a little better as the bars went on.
I danced like that for close to an hour, unwilling to end a night in with myself and little miss, grooving and singing and maybe even feeling okay. We all need to give into the bad days on occasion, and let ourselves cry it out. I have to say though, walking into the office today where I was greeted with free breakfast and smiles from my coworkers, dance parties with little miss do pretty alright too.