small interludes

At Duane Reade this evening, I bought three Red Bulls (on sale, three for $5 or something like that). The cashier: “Looks like someone’s planning to take over the world.” Me: “They aren’t all for right now.” His reply: “Julius Caesar needed more than one night, as did Genghis Khan. I have faith. You look like the sort of person who can take over as much as she likes, even without the Red Bull.”

And this on a day when I didn’t even feel like getting out of bed, a migraine beckons, I’m half heartbroken and half soul sick, the heat in my room is perpetually 10° cooler than I’d prefer, my bank balance is $20 lower than I need, and everything seems tilted slightly askew to what it’s supposed to be.

Meanwhile, I sit – alone, on purpose – in a donut shop on 14th Street on a Saturday night, eating a bialy sandwich and offering advice to random good-looking strangers in search of a bathroom. I want something I can’t name but know I won’t find anywhere I look tonight or even tomorrow; what I’m seeking feels as though it might be closure or serenity or peace of mind or a sense of belonging or maybe even knowing the choices I’ve made and continue to make are the right ones or at least not the horribly wrong ones. Really, though, what I want is to see what other people see in me, even – apparently – feckless drugstore cashiers: I want to see myself as someone who can take over the world, with or without Red Bull, even if it’s just a small corner of it, even if it’s just for a little while, for a moment or two that I’m able to make a difference, be special, stamp the universe with my mark.

Tonight, though, I’ll finish my sandwich and hope the handsome stranger found his bathroom and that I won’t have to wait too long for the A train and that I’ll get to sleep at a decent hour without fretting too much about the state of things, which vacillate between damn good and brief blips of self-doubt and recrimination. Life’s good, overall; tonight’s just one that feels off, mostly because a stranger made a random comment that meant nothing to him but triggered everything in me (go figure).

I’ll end here, because otherwise this existential crisis could last ten thousand words, and who needs that? Woody Allen, perhaps, in 1974, but by now even he’d be bored by that.