When you get into the driver's seat it feels as though all the molecules in your face have been woken up and are now reacting violently. Stress points in your head are throbbing. Your hands are shaking as you start the car. You grip the steering wheel and look ahead at the dimly lit street.
You think about Chris with his/her arms around him/her. You picture them naked and writhing in a nondescript bed. You blink to force the image from your mind. You shake your head and bring your fingers to your face. You don't know what to do next; you don't know how to react, so you do what feels natural. As you press on the button for the headlights and push the gear into drive, you are thankful that your body knows how to find its way home.
A pulsing begins in the space in between and above your eyes. "You're cheating on me with Chris?" you ask. "My Chris?" you ask, needing qualification at to whether it is the same Chris who is one of your dearest friends. You glance toward the kitchen, looking for a shadow, sensing a presence. "I am so sorry," he/she says. "I don't understand," you tell him/her. You look into his/her eyes. He/She says nothing. You pick up the box and walk through the still open front door. You head towards the car walking across the lawn and attempt to find the key to your trunk on your key ring. You drop the keys and while leaning down, lean the box, which expels the letter. You pick it up and examine your handwritten name on the front. You turn it over and notice that he/she sealed it. You find the trunk key on your set and open the trunk. As you place the box inside while holding the letter in your left hand you realize that he/she does not even have a computer, though Chris does.
And then you're there, at his/her driveway, where you usually pull in but you can't because there is another car there, in your spot. At first you realize that the car belongs to your friend Chris and you sit there wondering why Chris is there and why Chris feels comfortable enough to park in the driveway. You are a maneuver frozen in time, until you navigate the car to a spot on the street directly in front of his/her house. When you get out of the car you are out of sorts, and you neglect to see the car headed in your direction. You have to flatten yourself against the car while the open door lightly presses into your right side. When the car passes you close the door and head up to his/her house.
When you get to the front door, which is customarily left open for you, you reach for the knob. But before your hand makes contact, he/she opens the door to you. You look at him/her and he/she returns the look with an anxious countenance. You instantly forget about Chris' car in the driveway and ask, "What's wrong?" When you walk further into the foyer his/her eyes glance toward a cardboard computer paper box by the steps, two feet away. You glance at the box and realize that it no longer contains computer paper but now your sweatshirt and sweater are peeking out, next to what appears to be your other pair of jeans and your Sunday morning/bedhead-covering hat. You look at him/her and his/her eyes are welling with tears. "I'm sorry," he/she mutters, "I have to end this with you." You ask, "Where's Chris?" He/She says, "I'm so sorry. There is a letter in the box that explains everything. Chris and I are getting married. I didn't know how to tell you about us."
And after putting on your sneakers and brushing your teeth, you pick up your keys and head for the door and your car and him/her. And again you are transported by routine because you go to his/her house almost every night after coming home and changing and know the way like you know the route home from work, except that the route is shorter and less traffic prone. The trip usually averages three songs on the radio, depending on what time you leave, how long it takes you to decide what to wear and the radio station's propensity for playing commercials every fifteen minutes.
There are circular lights and lumbering machines around you. The music hums like white noise and you barely register the songs you care for from the songs that would normally cause your hand to reach for the dial. You reach your house, park your car, and check your mailbox for new mail, which, if plentiful, is filled with opportunity. You unlock the door and let yourself in, dropping your bag next to the entrance. You then execute the movements involved in stripping off all your clothes excepting your socks and undergarments, tossing them over your shoulder or arm as you climb the stairs on the way to your bedroom. When you reach the bedroom, in two fluid motions you turn on the light and you toss your clothes on the bed. You think, for about two seconds, about where your jeans are. Then you remember and retrieve them, slip into them and then pull a long sleeve red shirt from the second drawer of your bureau.
You get into your car after work around the same time every day and there in the horizon the sun hangs amidst orange clouds, anxious to get home as much as you are. You navigate the same reverse and right turn from your parking spot. You hit the highway knowing where to go slow, where to speed up, where to let other cars in. You disregard the advertising that companies pay a great deal of money to put in front of your eyes because you have given over the physical manifestation of reaction to your body.
There are days when your environment is a blur, where only the most ridiculous display of outdoor human behavior will shake you from looking straight ahead. There are days when classic rock songs pulsing from the radio are nothing but murmurs, heard and said numerous times while washing dishes, mopping the floor or driving to work.
There is something graceful about routine. There
is beauty in the mundane. There is integrity in the same route, the traveled
path, the common horizon. Going through the motions will ultimately save
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