Losing My Keys, My Feet

Like many NYC residents, and drug traffickers, who are often also part-time NYC residents, I put a lot of faith in coffee. The last week has left me exhausted, and I’ve just been searching for motivation in the bottom of cup after cup of overpriced coffee. But it’s left me still exhausted, now with an intermittently twitchy eye.

It’s cold here, because it’s winter, which is my favorite season, because I can wear so much clothing at any given time and I am a sartorial maximalist and a fiscal liberal, but only with clothes. On my epic commute home, I was wearing a scarf, but by scarf, I mean blanket, around my neck.

This is something I picked up from one of my best friends when we lived in Boston, circa 2007. We worked together at Starbucks, which weirdly has yielded some of my closest friendships (Schultz 2020?) I had just transferred from my petty, dysfunctional suburban store, to a petty, mostly functional urban store and started college. I remember meeting her really well. I remember being struck by how pretty she was, in this unique way- she wasn’t wearing an ounce of makeup and she had these enormous eyes that were unreal.

That day, she was late. She lived a bit outside the city and I was told that it wasn’t unusual for her to be a little bit late for a shift. After a few years, I learned to tell her she needed to be somewhere 45 minutes before I actually needed her there. My first day at the Boston store, she swept in, wearing HEELS and some amazing vintage jacket with no less than three scarves draped around her neck and shoulders, all apologies, at 5:19. In the morning. Incidentally, by the time she unwrapped the scarves it was 5:24. From that day on, in the cold, I gravitated towards the biggest scarves I could find, and every time I wrap myself up, I think of her.

I feel like maybe I’m making it sound like she’s dead. She’s fine, guys. She’s in India and posting regularly to Instagram. Which is how I know people are ok now, I guess.

So I was semi-sleepwalking down the stairs at Fulton St, the steep ones, and I realized, between the obscenely big scarf and the specific angle of my body on the stairs, that I couldn’t see my feet. Let me tell you, when you’re walking down stairs and you realize that, for whatever reason, you can’t see your feet, your brain goes fucking bananas. All of a sudden, I forgot how to walk. I basically stopped short, trying to gingerly place one foot at a time in front of me, carefully adjusting my body to balance as I shifted my weight forward, envisioning myself tripping and skidding, face first, down the subway steps.

I thought about what kind of illnesses you can contract by having an open wound anywhere near an NYC subway. Then I wondered when the last time was that I got a tetanus shot. And then I realized I wasn’t focusing on walking down the steps and I did that thing where you go to step and the step just isn’t there and I had horrifying moment in which I was certain it was all over for me. I did catch myself, right before I did accidental parkour. Maybe if I had just let myself fall, I would fallen right into some bad boy with a heart of gold’s arms. I have been told that I should let people feel more needed by me. I think about it a lot, but in this moment my reflexes decided for me that it wasn’t the right moment to test it.

True story: I am having a rough few (several) days. If still drank, this week might have driven me to temporarily become the person I hate, the one who drinks rosé because that is what you drink to get lady drunk and cry. My attempt at trying to feel better while suspecting that I’m not actually aware of everything that’s bothering me has made me feel like I’ve been tripping down the stairs off and on for days.

I also lost my keys yesterday, which to most plebes is not the actual end of the world. But to me, a mere vessel for anxiety and La Croix, it was harrowing. I am fallible, arguably very to extremely, but I do not lose my keys. They're either in my purse, or in the dish on the dining room table. That’s it. If they ever come out during my day, like when I’m handing over my keys over to the Foodtown cashier so she can scan the little plastic tag, which I’m not convinced does anything, I immediately snatch them back protectively and quickly deposit them safely back into my bag.

But I went to leave yesterday and my keys just, weren’t there. I tore the house apart but eventually I had to leave for work without them. Over the course of the day, I racked my brain over where they could be that I didn’t already check. Around mid-afternoon, I started to stress about dealing with coordinating my return home that night so that one of my roommates was there. At what point should I stop looking and just make copies? And where was I gonna make copies??! Is this who I was now, the kind of person who straight up loses her keys? I felt like things were colossally out of control. I mean, I was the only one who had the mailbox key. We might never be able to receive mail ever again.

When I got home last night, I stood outside my apartment and texted my roommate to ask her to come let me in, which she did immediately and without any complaints. I slept shittily, and continued to feel crazy today, until my other roommate found my keys. On her desk. At her office.

I just feel like everything is a little harder right now. I’m knocking on random doors, my face completely covered by scarves, yelling about how I’m having hard time seeing and breathing because of the scarf situation and that I need some help to whoever is inside, through the tiny keyhole.

I was talking to a friend of mine about the eye surgery we both had when we were kids. We commiserated about not being able to properly open our eyes for about a week after. I remember how painful it was, how weak the muscles felt and the stray bright red tears. But when I resigned myself to being patient, did nothing, just kept them closed, when I opened them again, my eyes were strong enough to ditch my glasses.

I’m motivated to do nothing right now, which is convenient because I don’t know how much more I can flail around before my limbs, already traumatized by the stair incident, give up and lie still.