There are two moments in a 24-hour span each day that ground me in the fact that I am in a perpetual state of monotony – when I’m walking into the bathroom to get ready for bed, and when I stumble into that same bathroom the next morning to get ready for the day. There’s just something so distinctively repetitive about the way my bare feet feel on the soap scummed grout, the way the smell of shampoo emanates from the shower and hits my nostrils, the way that the flickering light above the mirror causes my eyes to scramble for focus. It could be stormy, snowy, or hazy outside, but I would never know because this room at the end of my hallway has no window, just the smudged reflection of my face day in and day out. It’s a face that used to be called out for being overly expressive. You have no poker face, they’d say. Not as much now. Poker face is often all I have to give. That stony “here we go again” expression is my new normal.
Normal. Whatever that means.
For the first few months of this fiasco, I would wax poetic about a life that will inevitably return to normal. Now, deeper into this thing, I recognize that while some elements of my life will be restored to original condition, the core of my being will not. I don’t want it to. The way that my life was before – the delicate way that it spun around me each hour, day, month, year – was weak. It crumpled so easily under the pressure of what was an inevitable seismic event. It has let out countless exasperated sighs, complaints of inconvenience, and visceral shock towards human misbehavior and exploitation. How the hell can a human being exist in this universe, with unparalleled access to historical texts and surround sound global suffering, be so incredibly shook by the state of the world in 2020?
These are things that I think about as I brush my teeth in that tiny bathroom. Brush, spit, brush, spit, and then yank the floss out of its little box. As it slides across the gummy contours of my mouth, I consider how I have the gall to stand here and wallow in the mundane repetition of a world on fire and pretend like this choreographed coping is somehow novel because it’s happening to me.
I spit blood into the sink and watch it fade from red to pink to clear as it swirls down the drain. My husband reminds me that poor dental hygiene can lead to more daunting medical issues, so I’ve been committed to correcting my regimine. Yet, despite how much effort I now put into proper flossing, my mouth always bleeds violently. Every night, without fail.