At roughly 7:51 a.m., I sat completely still while gazing out of the windshield of my mid-sized sports utility vehicle. Parked under the shade of a tall oak tree, my mind raced as the sound of Bruce Springsteen’s “Backstreets” played loudly in the background. On the rare occasion where I find it necessary to indulge on a work night, it is essential that I arrive to my office earlier than normal. A hangover by itself can be managed, but a hangover coupled with the stress that accompanies a tardy arrival is a dangerous road to travel down.
One benefit of waking up earlier than normal after a long night is the self-reflection that normally goes overlooked while rushing around worrying that you might be late. To reward myself and begin the process of rejoining society, I took an unusually long shower which included a full facial shave to dismiss the stubble that had set in. In my head, I thought about the social interactions I could remember from the night before and pieced together the ones I could not. Unfortunately, meaningful conversation was non-existent. A bar filled with Chicago Cubs fans and those just looking to experience the historical joy associated with the moment was exactly what I imagined it would be. Loud, full, and drunk – very, very drunk. I had no dog in the fight, but the thought of being alone in my living room while my friends were out on the town served as motivation.
I am an overachiever. I feel guilty taking sick days, even when it’s completely justified, and I assume that every coworker I pass in the hallway knows that I drank heavily last night. Some of my most productive mornings have occurred while flirting with a BAC dangerously close to the legal limit. Today would be one of those days. I sat down at my desk and flipped on my computer only to be greeted by multiple necessary updates. Out of the corner of my eye, I noticed the trashcan that I typically keep tucked out of sight under my desk had been placed in an abnormal location. A detail so insignificant can sometimes affect your entire day, but in lieu of mentally admonishing the cleaning crew, I rolled my all black desk chair over to the waste bin and placed it back under my desk. Crisis averted.
The first cup of coffee is the most important. I take a Theanine supplement to prevent the negative effects of caffeine from setting in and interrupting my morning. My phone sat next to my keyboard, brightly lit with messages from those who accompanied me last night. Everyone feels bad. Some worse than others, and for good reason. I laugh at the gruesome details of our struggles which include graphic descriptions of bodily functions that should never be shared. It’s all funny to me.
If the people I work with in a newly renovated office knew who my friends really were, knew who I really was outside of the confines of this structure, they would no longer attempt to live vicariously through me. For them, it’s fun to step away from their own reality and responsibilities, but their premise is incorrect. Being this person with seemingly few obligations is exhausting. The lack of obligation is what tortures me and has me constantly second guessing the path I’ve taken to arrive here. So I work.
I power through my inbox like a warm knife through unsalted grass-fed butter. The trancelike state that accompanies a highly motivated self-starter sporting a respectable hangover and a coffee buzz is a feeling that should be bottled and sold on the black market. By an act of God, I’m somehow able to avoid coworker interaction. I am alone with my thoughts. Thoughts and a group text. I glance down at the cracked screen because I seek more dialogue from these people. No one has typed it, but I know they’re all thinking it. We need to do this more. My thumbs tremble slightly as I type those words into my phone. I press the blue arrow and watch the message sit by itself at the bottom of the conversation while anxiously awaiting confirmation. Deep down, I know that I could be talked into doing this again tonight. .
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