The problem is not a problem but, yes, there’s a problem

My phone worked this morning, and then it didn’t. This meant that I couldn’t listen to music on the walk from the car to the office. I charged it at my desk, and when I got back from teaching, it still wouldn’t turn on. This now meant that I wasn’t receiving calls if the kids needed me, if any coming-home-from-school plans changed. Although I had hours left to do research, I packed up my bag and walked out the door without a moment’s hesitation. I needed to get that phone working. Once outside, I realized I didn’t have a coat on, but I had the nice alpaca scarf (Xmas 2011 gift from husband) in my bag. I flung it around my neck and made my way to the car. I drove to the AT&T store. Only I didn’t. I pulled into a parking lot to find myself in front of the Radio Shack. No, right, AT&T was down the road. I was so distracted. I turned around, made it to the correct store, and stood in line just to get myself on the queue. While waiting, I peeked at the phone, and I gave it a second look. Is this the phone? Did I put an old phone in my purse by mistake? I turned it around in my hand, making sure it was a phone, the right phone, doubting reality, pretty sure I’m going crazy. Or maybe it’s the world that’s crazy. Things just don’t seem to be working like they’re supposed to.

I overheard customers explain they needed their ipad fixed so they could take it on vacation. And that’s when I started to crumble. If my phone’s off, my kids can’t reach me. Can I jump this queue? I felt the need to sit down. I wanted to cry. I tried to meditate standing up. I felt like I was atop a house of cards, and I’m so dependent on this stupid phone to keep in touch with the kids that if you take it away from me…

The guy-who-queues-us-up got to me before I made a scene.  I was very quiet in sharing my problem and pressed the phone into his hand. He pressed the start and home button, and the magic Apple lit up. It just needed to be reset. He explained, “Maybe your kids or husband were playing with the phone….” and I checked out. I guess, what with the smartphone and alpaca scarf and cashmere sweater, I look like the standard soccer mom. But I’m not. I’m Grey Gardens, shabby-academic edition, what with the second-guessing whether the phone in my bag is a phone and all.

I didn’t know where to go from there, now that my phone worked and no child had an emergency. I wasn’t up for the afternoon of scheduled research. I went to the Chinese restaurant, having forgotten to eat lunch, what with the teaching and driving around to fix the not-broken phone and all. I brought a research book to read, and I found it so fascinating. A year ago, I could have done so much with this book. Today, I felt like a child pressing her nose into the windows of Lord & Taylor, knowing there are pretty things inside, but not being able to buy them.

I ordered something different for a change–a vegetable sushi roll–but it didn’t seem substantial enough, so I offered a tofu dish, too. With tip, it came to $18. What a waste of money. I was just aimless, not knowing where I belonged. I drove to the edge of town to the store that sells nutritional yeast, which son likes to put on his bean and cheese quesadillas. I went to big box hardware store to get some help with operating my new cordless screwdriver to fix the broken board on our front stairs. I was willing to go anywhere, just so long as I didn’t drive home and collapse on my bed to cry or sleep. I’m tired of doing that, but I don’t know what to do if I don’t do that.

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