A friend of mine sat down on the stool next to me at our diner. He sighed the kind of sigh that is only born of a raw soul. A soul that instead of being enlightened and lifted by the holidays was crushed center mass by the proverbial holiday 2 by 4. Make that a 2 by 6.
“Thank God it’s over,” he said.
“Coffee?” Bernice asked.
I sipped my own coffee and stared at the 70’s era 7-Up clock on the wall. I wasn’t ready to read the newspaper yet. It was 4:30am. Back to our routine. Our comfortable, satisfying, rhythmic routine.
It was ironic my friend thanked God for an end to the celebration of human redemption. I could barely allow myself to think through the last two weeks’ events. They came to me in flashes while my mind begged my soul for balance. The bursts of flashing memory brought clashes of interpersonal perfection concepts, racking laughter, sickening food binges by well-intentioned familial bakers, near-arguments resulting in backroom rants, deep breaths and drive-ons, gulps after glancing at bank statements, a lack of exercise, an endless cramming of boxes into already packed cars, and the screaming of over-stimulated children into the ears of over-stimulated parents. I needed a holiday from the holidays.
I hungered for something holy in all of this minute-slaughtering minutia. My friend and I barely said a word to each other. We both needed the quiet. The drone of the sports scores on the mini-television in the corner and the clack of a fork, through eggs, against the porcelain plate were all we needed.
“Pie?” Bernice asked.
I shook my head no.
There was ice under that snow. If I was going to remain upright, I was going to need all my strength. I left Bernice a tip and stepped toward my car. I felt the kindling excitement to go back to work, to make better plans, and to be more disciplined this year. In the end, we are responsible for ourselves.