Amy is leaning into the kitchen counter hand washing dishes in too tepid water. The hot water must be rationed as she has to wash her hair later; every single day, otherwise she looks slick and grimy. Both her hair and her broken out face are too greasy; teenage hormones. Two other siblings compete for hot showers in this one-bathroom home. The discord around showers is constant.
When all the dishes are balanced on the drying rack and the sink is wiped down, she turns herself into the corner nook and leans back into the counter. She has taken a cleaned paring knife and sliced open an avocado. Cupping half of it in one hand, she lightly seasons it with lemon pepper, then eats it with a spoon. This is what she has been waiting for all day, her treat.
Her moods swing between dread and relief. Her chores are tedious but add to her cashflow from babysitting. Her social life is paltry which means she can work more and save more money. Regardless if she’s worked or had a stack of homework to complete, there is nothing more she looks forward to than journaling late at night after her sister -sharing the same room, has fallen asleep. After writing is when she puts on her headphones and listens to a new cd from start to finish until she falls asleep too. The crème de la crème.
In the routine days, we are always in a state of anticipation.
Constant anticipation is what drives our lives. Looking forward to that first cup of coffee in the morning to bingeing a show after work; to going for that celebratory dinner or a long-planned trip; the excitement of an interview for a new job or meeting a date for dinner, we course through the mundanity towards what is on the horizon. Moving towards the future makes the current moment bearable. It keeps the boring at bay. It makes us feel alive. So much of our behavior and routines are banal and coasting along; the days running into one another as time marches on. These are the things we wouldn’t brag about or post pictures of on social media.
I’ve considered this in the context of all the things we pursue for a little excitement, to break up the monotony. There are too many short-lived thrills that do us more harm than good: eating dessert even though you’re full will make you uncomfortable and add unnecessary weight gain; having an affair will add new, intense feelings but will destroy your marriage; constantly buying the newest fashion trend may look current but will break the bank.
There’s a sense of despair underlying every exhausted mom drinking wine at the end of the day and calling it ‘mommy juice’. I’ve never known what to make of that. Any level of work ethic or child rearing doesn’t automatically need a sweet treat or a glass of wine or a shopping spree. “I deserve it,” the dieter says after any evidence of their own willpower.
How did we condition ourselves to this?
Lack of satisfaction in the here and now, maybe. Lack of acceptance for the here and now, certainly.
I find people who need constant excitement and a plan to do the next thing to be kinda sad. Being human is simply being human, and it can often be boring. There is nothing wrong with this. There is no competition here.