Sometimes I have to remind myself that things won't go as planned not matter how solid and swimmingly everything is going up until that certain point. It's not that I haven't figured this out on my own yet, but when I'm looking forward to something, I can have tail-wagging puppy-dog enthusiasm. And unlike the puppies, I don't forget my disappointment when a tennis ball is tossed my way. It's the downside of having any expectations.
Some nights might end with me lying on my bed eating a tomato sandwich and watching Arrested Development while the night breathes like an open oven door, even though it's a holiday and my birthday at midnight and I'm in the me-me-me moment and there are at least a dozen places with air conditioning and alcohol that I'd rather be but for reasons beyond my control, I cannot.
That while impulsively trimming my too-long bangs at the bathroom sink, I realize the contents that went down my kitchen sink have been regurgitated into my bathtub and it smells and I smell and can't rectify my smelling until the dirty water goes down and I scrub the tub. Tears and sweat are both salty and easily mix together with self-pity, especially late at night.
And at 12:45 a.m., on a night so hot that I'm actively sweating just sitting still, I trudge into a Rite-Aid to get rubber gloves, sponges, and an extension cord, but I'm directed to the wrong aisle by a woman with painted-on eyebrows, so I detour through the candy aisle because, um, it's a short cut, and the box of Ring Pops with their shiny Crayola wrappers taunt me to pick one, so I do. Cherry. Classic.
Then at the register, Painted-On Eyebrows tells me that the machine for debit cards is down and I tell her it's fine, I'm paying with cash, finishing that sentence in my mind with I don't have enough money on my card anyways, feeding into the mope machine, when she asks me how my 4th is going and am I having a nice night.
I want to say, "No, it's been fucking horrible, The Worst Night Ever, my bathtub is full of gross dishwater, my third floor apartment is a hothouse, and the asshole I'm supposed to be with right now won't call me back and it makes my heart hurt. Did I mention it's technically my birthday now? I feel like no one cares, even though I know people do."
Then I look her in the eye and I see that she's tired. She's being polite. She doesn't want to be here any more than I do. Working on holidays can be the adult equivalent of staying inside to do homework while all the other kids go to recess, hearing their screams and laughter while math problems stare back from the page, uncaring. The money isn't even worth the assholic nature of happy revelers, drunk on their own good times more so than alcohol. The central AC is useless when this close to the automatic sliding doors that lets in hell's exhaust every few minutes. In terms of the Worst Night Ever, I decide she has it.
Her eyebrows are painted on. Maybe she has alopecia. I make myself smile and say, "Yeah, it's been really nice."
"Oh good," she says, bagging my stuff. "It's just been so miserable outside."
Back in my apartment, I open up the to-do list my mom wrote as a birthday letter for me. I love for it's dorky thoughtfulness. And I decide this will be my year.