I slept last night – for the first time in a week. And I slept in this morning – a luxury usually reserved for the weekend. When I woke up this morning it was like waking up to a new world with a new sun.
I was in a good mood. I’m never in a good mood in the mornings – but then, I didn’t wake up in the morning today. With the sun shining bright through my window and my mind clear for first time in days it was hard not to feel a bit giddy.
I can’t get away with this, though. I fight with myself. Any happiness is always laced with guilt and doubt.
‘Don’t be so quick to be happy,’ part of me told myself.
‘I can be happy,’ the other half responded. ‘I feel great for the first time in ages. The sun is shining in the middle of winter! Sure, I have to teach, but my classes have actually – oddly – been enjoyable lately and I am going to try to enjoy these too!’
Of course, this kind of optimism only churned up the doubt and cynicism it was thinly covering.
‘And after my classes,’ my optimistic side continued, ‘I have a nice evening planned with my friends at a pub. Today will be a good day!’
But I doubted myself. I took a shower and got ready, and I knew that I would be reminded why I am slowly killing the optimistic side of me.
I took my anxiety pills for the first time in a month – to try and medicate away all this negativity – and I walked out the door into a sunny day and headed toward my first class – with plenty of time to get there.
“Enjoy the rest of this spring day,” my student said as I stepped on to the elevator without him. This is the warmest winter recorded in Prague in over two hundred and thirty years. And this was one of the most beautiful spring days we have had this winter.
‘One class down and one to go!’ I thought to myself, with no sign of an inner struggle over the wordless joyful feelings flying through my head. Maybe that medication really does help with my anxiety.
As I headed to my next class I decided to check my phone for any new messages. It is Friday, after all, there were probably thousands of text messages flying around this town making plans for the evening. I had one new message, from Amanda, wondering if any final plans had been made as to the pub or the time for our relaxing evening.
I sent a text off to Jay to see what he knew, since he had been awake far longer than I had and was probably already arranging the plans; and this was all up to Angela, anyways, since it was her night to choose. It took a while to get a response, but I finally got one while pulling into a station on the metro.
“Angela is sick and has called off the plans,” it said. “So I am going to take Alice out, instead,” it said. All my fucking friends have girlfriends. I get left alone on date nights.
I passed on the news and it was the same all around. Friday night turned into date night and I was left with nothing to do and no one to do it with.
I sent a message back to Jay. “Damnit, man!” I said. “I knew I’d be reminded of why I am not an optimistic person,” I said.
“If it makes you feel any better, my computer crashed this morning,” he said.
“We’ll, I guess I’ll have time to try and fix it!” I said. “Please save all applause for the curtain call,” I said. The cynical side of me comes out quickly when the optimistic side has had it’s chance and failed.
“Settle down. You can go out with Alice and I if you want,” he said.
I didn’t need his pity invite. I’m getting tired of pity invites.
“I’m joking – you know, mostly,” I said. “And I wouldn’t butt in on your time together,” I said. “But my cynical witticisms are far funnier than my usually mundane self.”
I knew I was being an ass. I didn’t really care - I wanted to be an ass. But I figured it was unfair to take it out on one particular person, especially a friend. Anyways, that last message, of course, got an actual call in return.
“Sorry. I’m being an ass,” I said, “but not toward you or anything like that,” I said. “You just had the displeasure of hearing it. Sorry about that.”
“It’s okay,” he said. “Everyone is pretty stressed with the end of the semester testing – fuses are short.”
“It’s not that,” I said. “But it’s okay.”
“What it is then?” he asked. I didn’t answer, though. I didn’t feel like answering. I didn’t feel like explaining how slowly killing optimism is an ugly business. I didn’t want to explain how it was something that had to be done. “Okay, I’ll talk to you later then,” he said. “Have a fun time with Alice, tonight,” I said. We hung up.
I meant it though – about them having a good time. I hope they are having a good time right now. The only person I am every cynical about is myself.
By this point I was arriving, just on time, for my last class of the day – of the week. I went to the front desk to announce myself. I was told my student was in a meeting, so I waited. I read my book and I waited. I waited some more, and I got a text message. That fighting thing was back. But this time the optimistic side was the underdog. My optimistic side wanted to hear some good news from somebody with some plans.
I opened the message, it was from Jay. “Hey,” he said. “Can you pick up some toilet paper on the way home?” He said, “I keep forgetting.”