LESS THAN EMPTY
by Wendy White-Cserepy
I wasn't always cocooned. In years past, after college, I was new, and full. But of what? I soon learned about the experience of others, and thus came to predict my own eventual metamorphosis at their insistence.
It began with Harry.
"Nother party tonight?" Harry, the grocer, asked, mechanically, while stuffing the grapes, pears, brie and baguettes into my flimsy bags. I was a bit surprised when he turned away to rearrange the cauliflower. Harry almost always wanted the full scoop. I tried to catch his eye, but it fell empty through my hands.
After that, more followed.
I couldn't contain my smile as I proceeded to Felicity's Flowers. Jack, old neighbor Jackaroo passes me on the way. "Hi Jack", I shout, ready to tell him my news: I'm being promoted. "Jack, hey, I'm celebrating tonight, come over around--" He stared, without seeing me. I roared through the tunnel of his vacant gaze.
But I knew Felicity would be happy, known me since I was a kid. "Three bunches of the mixed bouquets, please. Give me the ones that have lots of red in them." Absent-mindedly, she took my credit card, and I chattered about my new job and tonight's celebration. Grinning, I managed to catch her eye. She looked at me, gave me a stare as empty as a barrel bottom, and mumbled, "That's good. Have a nice day."
And after that day, I noticed it more often.
Was it the economy? A new asteroid threat? No one looked at me. I tried to make contact, but I got nothing. They were all so blank. Were they thinking at all? And if not, why not? Aren't we meant to? Were my expectations too high?
Six years and five jobs later, I stopped ignoring it and looked in the mirror. And then I understood, knew what I had to do. Mercifully, I found a cocoon--a long drive into the next county, but very affordable and close enough to the sea on weekends.
Without mortgage now, and between clocks, I can step from a bath to fill myself with poetry, earth and stars, and books about a world that seeks a single thing to matter most, a single and most perfect thing to fill it.
2020 Pennsylvania Ave., NW
Washington, DC 20006