eight years and for what

The hard drive in my brain is working too hard today. Trying to process all of life’s possibilities now that all of these doors have opened and I’ve finally admitted to myself that I can actually go to college if I want to. Thinking if I start now, today, if I start this one step it will lead to another and another and in eight years I might actually be somewhere. Thirty-six! And the heavy rain of self hatred, too, muddying everything up- I’m a failure, I’m a failure, I’m a failure, eight years have already passed, and where did it get me? It got me to the present, which is here- Kristi is painting the front room tangerine orange, even though Eden was not finished mixing the paint. Eden couldn’t find happiness anywhere in that plastic bucket of color, and so spent three days brushing out squares of subtly different orange on pieces of cardstock, the tins from the basement lined up around her. Some of the orange squares were more brown, some more pink. Some of them were bright like a sunset that had been set on fire. Meanwhile the nubby pink and green couch and the record player are under plastic, huddled in the middle of the room, and the comfortable chairs have all been crowded into the dining room, and all the lamps. And Kristi got tired of waiting for Eden’s perfectionism to resolve itself so now she’s standing on the rickety wooden step-ladder, engulfing the walls in tangerine orange. Eden was nowhere near finished mixing the color.

“Do you think it’s too bright?” She asks Macon, holding her roller of electric taffy-orange at an angle.

“It’s ok,” says Macon. “Do YOU think it’s too bright?”

“I think it’s ok,” says Kristi. I like the color because it’s ridiculous, and that’s pretty exciting. One week ago the front-room walls were a dead, high-gloss dark brown, so anything is better than that. Now all we need to do is get a new chimney for the woodstove and a bunch of overstuffed couches instead of the one nappy one, and we’ll have the best front-room that anyone has ever had, ever.

I’m going to go running now. It’s frozen and dark outside but the skies are clear, and yesterday I went running in forest park and learned that if you just keep going, your toes stop being numb and then the rest of you is warm, and then you feel like an overheated cheetah that lives in a low-lit winter forest where all the ferns are frozen and stretched out, shimmery with frost, and the patches of ice on the trail are no match for your boundless enthusiasm. And what better way to feel is there but that?

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