Tuesday, February 19, 2008

The Handicapped Restroom

I take a bathroom break and stroll into the men's room. Both stalls are full.

I walk down the hall to the handicapped restroom, still feeling slightly guilty despite there being no one even close to handicapped on the entire floor, besides the guy with the broken leg.

The locking door, the shiny feminine hygiene products dispensing machine, my own personal mirror; the handicapped restroom is so clean, large, and luxurious. I lounge on the oversized can.

There is a pink envelope on the toilet paper dispenser next to me. I open it. Inside there is a card, a sympathy card. And inside that there is a note. I unfold it and read it. It is not mine, but I read it.

The toilet seat is chilly in the cool bathroom air. The note is typed. Laserjet black letters, spaced evenly across each line and down the page, attempt to warm the heart with serif sympathies and Times New Roman condolences. I finish the note and refold and replace it into the dainty pink envelope.

I contemplate the universality of human suffering and the manufactured distance we keep between us. I wonder why others struggle so hard to become close to someone, anyone, while I revel contently with my emotional absence. Why should departure feel so much like death? Why should I feel more sorry for the letter's writer than its reader. And how could I possibly compare my angsty heartbreak with the mourning of a departed loved one? I feel small and all-knowing. I feel comforted in my loneliness. I feel alive and undead and forsaken and reborn.

Through my hands hot tears fall onto the underwear stretched between my ankles. I sniffle at the trickle of sap-like snot creeping out of my nostril like a slow molasses, a gradual bitter epiphany. I lift my head and feel an all-peace, a sad-but-comforting religious realization, the nature of which I imagine is out of my realm of comprehension. Or perhaps it's just exhaustion, or apathy. I don't pretend to know the difference.

A final push and I'm free of all the waste left in my body. I wipe all appropriate orifices with the rough, industrial toilet paper afforded the plebeians, resituate my clothes, and wash my hands. I exit the handicapped restroom and return to work.

1 comment:

  1. closeness, that elusive thing. the daily dying quest after myths and rumors of love, wanting to dull the ache of consciousness. what is that connection, is it approval, acceptance, truce, tactile stimulation? are we any more than kindergarteners and puppy dogs beneath self-awareness? in closeness, when we find it, will we find Love? this is not mental illness, this is living. and dying. being awake and yet not infirm as we are often accused.


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