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I am sick. I am finally admitting it. I am sick. Don’t tell Esteban, though, because that bastard is always right.

My much maligned vacation day on Monday? Spent in a thousand yard stare as I breathed through my mouth and chugged hot tea. I had to drive my car to the snooty suburb 10 miles away and swap it for the Concorde so that my automatic starter could be installed. Originally, I wanted to keep my car for half the day because I planned to go to Appleton to finish up my Christmas shopping, however the seven and a half inches of snow, not to mention my sloth-like reflexes made driving 40 miles to go to Williams and Sonoma unadvisable.

Instead, I wandered around the local Target, plundered the tissue aisle of not one, not two, but THREE boxes of lotion Kleenex (they were on sale), got a handful of various cold remedies, including my longtime foe, Day Quil capsules, and scooped up the presents for the hardest people to shop for, Ward and June. The gifts reek of desperation, quite frankly, but whatever. I have a serious lack of concern anymore and they’ll be perfectly happy with their jumper cable cozies. No. Not really, but other than a Ghiradelli cocoa gift set (found in the aisle of Generic Things People Buy For People They Don’t Know), what else is there at Target? Anything they really like, they buy for themselves. And of course, I passed up the perfect June-sized cashmere sweater on sale at the Land’s End Inlet a few weeks ago because I am a humongous tool.

At this point, I was still in denial about being sick, so I didn’t think twice about traversing the hallowed halls of Tarzhay (calling it that, by the way, according to Rob at Darn Tootin’, makes me uncool, but whatever), however soon I was sort of stumbling around like a zombie (Braaaains!), ripping into one of the packages of tissues even though I find that terribly embarrassing to start using a product before one has paid for it. But you know what is also embarrassing? Snot running down your chin, that’s what.

I somehow managed to pay for my purchases, both opened and unopened, and then found my car in the parking lot (by now, the easiest of mental tasks were alluding me) and then started driving home. Except that halfway home, I remembered that I had to drop off my car in the opposite direction. Wah. So I turned around and switched cars, swapping my bags around, spending about five minutes trying to click my seatbelt through my coat, which kept getting in the way, all the while juggling tissues and trying to keep myself from passing out. It was then that I had an inkling that this wasn’t just the sniffles.

I really then wanted some homemade chicken noodle soup, or even the fancy Campbell’s kind in a glass jar, but I knew that if I attempted to walk into a grocery store, I would certainly fall over from exhaustion, if not actually give up this mortal coil. I decided that I would rather starve if I could just be at home in my bed so I drove home and blacked out in a mouthbreathing haze, staring out the window at the falling snow, until I was startled when the phone rang. It was Esteban.

‘Did you remember to leave your keys with your car?’

And of course I didn’t remember. How could I remember when my head is full of cheese spread?

Esteban was understandably irritated and said ‘Well, get back in your car and bring him the keys so he can work on your car.’ And I whined back ‘I can’t, I don’t feel good.’

He started to argue with me about how the whole thing was dependent upon having keys for the car. I started to respond and then burst into tears at the thought of how it was only through sheer force of will that I had managed to get myself home without falling over dead and my GOD how was I going to go back out onto the greasy streets in the now cold Concorde, maneuver ten miles to the ‘burb and then ten miles back? How? The answer to that question is apparently to wail as though you’ve just realized that Camus was right and life has no meaning.

Esteban then volunteered to drive back to our house, get the keys, and drive back out to the M. I apologized and said that I would go and it wasn’t a big deal, but he told me to forget about it and he would take care of it and he was sorry that I was obviously not feeling very well and was there anything he could bring me? I felt bad because I hadn’t intentionally played the crying card, but just felt so overwhelmed by everything that it just sort of happened. And Esteban was probably shocked, as I don’t normally just lose my shit like that, especially not with the zero to sixty flat out wailing in mid-sentence. He reacted as I understand most men do when faced with a crying woman and did whatever he could to make me not cry anymore. Which is sexist bullshit, but also very true. I am somewhat ashamed by the whole occurrence, but at the same time, grateful that he didn’t think it was a big deal and kept reassuring me that I should have called him so that he could have made the car switch himself.

By the time he got home, I was swathed in a down comforter, still fully clothed, shivering, and staring up into the uterine darkness of our bedroom. He asked me if I needed anything, told me that I felt feverish, and brought me a bottle of water. I thanked him again for coming home and said that I felt bad and that I hadn’t meant to be manipulative with the crying. He understood, and told me to call the doctor. I decided not to because I’m pretty sure that it’s just one bastard of a cold. And still felt like an ass for the incident, which was so unexpected that it was almost like a seizure. A seizure of losing my mind.

Later, while closing the blinds in the living room, I toppled my potted orchid and caught the gritty root ball in my hands as the dirt flew across the living room and water splattered the wrapped presents, leaving the silver paper wrinkling and dappled in places. Luckily, I had already had my release of helplessness and didn’t have another tantrum, instead placing the plant back into its container and sweeping up the dirt that I could see. There’s a watermark on the wood floor now. I doubt that crying would do anything other that give it more character, so instead I sniffled at it and then wondered how pathetic it would be to wander around the house with tissue stuffed up my nostril. Why always the right nostril that is congested and runny? Why is the left always free and clear? Does it work like the US highway system? Slow traffic to the right?

Then began the self-berating. Of course I was sick, what did I expect, having subsisted solely upon cutout cookies and jasmine rice for the last four days? I kept slamming juice with a water chaser and then I managed to pull together the wherewithal to make myself some tomato soup and a grilled cheese and then a pot of tea, so rest assured that I did not waste away to nothing. Or, you know, considerably more than nothing, but still less than I was before. As far as I know, in fact, there has been little wasting.

Christmas cutout cookies: maintaining girth, maintaining tradition.

This entry has been sponsored by Day-Quil and also gallons of pure snot.

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