Some days are just bad.
They start out as horrible, they continue as awful, and they don’t stop pounding at you, even when you go to sleep that night, because you wake up two hours later and don’t sleep at all after that. Then it is 6 a.m. and you figure you might as well get up and face it all again, because you aren’t asleep anyway and now it’s light outside.
It is in these moments that you question your purpose, judge your livelihood, rip apart the reality of your day-to-day being, and don’t succeed at quashing your very raw emotions.
It’s a bad day gone to night, and it’s back again the next morning.
And you do your best to look great and hide the dark circles under your eyes, and you meet a friend to walk with her to her job and on the way, she asks you, “Trouble sleeping, again?”
“Sort of,” you lie.
And she is a good enough friend with her own history of bad days and sleepless nights to leave it at that.
And when you bid her farewell, you are almost relieved to be able to blare music into your ears that no one else can hear in hopes that it will drive all the bad-day thoughts from your mind. Which is when all the sad songs seem to make it into the “shuffle,” and you spend more time forwarding through songs than listening to them.
And just as you stop changing songs and give into the really sad lyrics of “The Way I Feel” by Cowboy Junkies and start to cry behind your sunglasses in full view of all the other people walking to the subway or strolling with their dogs or kissing each other goodbye on the sidewalk, you see it.
It is encased in a ziplock sandwich bag, half covered by remnants of a broken beer bottle and the pollen and dirt that has collected there at the curb on the corner, where the light is now red and you are staring down so no one notices your tears. You sneak a peek at the others waiting at the light with you. They are not looking at it; they are not even looking at you and your tears. You, and you alone, have seen it.
“Love,” it reads in purple marker next to a cut-out rectangle. “Have a happy day,” it continues underneath. There is more. But you stop reading and pick up the dusty packet and shove it in your giant black bag with the rips in it–the black bag you carry your party shoes in, the black bag you bought from a street vendor for $10 four months after 9-11 when you went to New York to spend tourist dollars to show solidarity with your own city that had its own dearth of tourist dollars. And you can’t bear to part with it, in all its hideousness, because you can’t, after all. And that’s where the Love Letter goes. Into the black bag.
And every few minutes, you touch the plastic bag that holds this Love Letter, feeling the grit from its outer covering cling to your fingertips. And you keep walking and keep listening to the sad songs and keep crying, but you no longer care who sees or who cares. Because you don’t care. Because you have a Love Letter in your beat-up black bag, and maybe it’s a sign. Maybe all will be good. All will be filled with love and you will no longer have a reason on this planet to cry.
And you wonder if it is something in the air, because now that you think about it, no one you know enough to care about–and that goes for the unknown but beloved blogger friends–is feeling all that great these days. But you have this Love Letter in your black bag, and you wonder, is this the same note that El Guapo (Feb. 23, “Wind Dancing”) found in another neighborhood? And that one thought almost makes you laugh aloud through your tears that you are now crying in earnest behind your sunglasses as you walk to work–the tears that are now ruining your makeup, splotching your face and causing your eyes to swell into tiny slits. And it’s only 8:30 a.m. At least you are not crying at work, just on the way to.
And when you get to work, you head immediately to the ladies room to repair whatever you can of the tear-washed makeup. You press cold, damp paper towels to your eyes, because you have seen this done in the movies, and you hope it works to disguise the fact that you just cried every mile of the five you have walked to work this bright, sunny morning.
Then you remember the Love Letter, and that makes you kind of smile, and that helps you remember you have emergency makeup in your desk drawer that will hide–at least for the next few hours–all evidence of your very bad and sad day that is only a few hours old.
You decide to place the Love Letter on top of your inbox, because this the is Love Letter that will make it all good, that will cure all that ails you this day and yesterday, and, if you will finally admit it, the past eight months or so. Yeah, this was the bad days of bad days. No kidding.
And as you fire up the email and prepare to wade through the phone messages, the purchasing manager for your restaurant strolls in and asks how you are this morning. And you decide not to mince words. You tell him, actually, that you suck this lovely morning, but that you found this Love Letter in the gutter and figure it’s a sign to feel better. And there it is, you point out to him, on top of your inbox that is also filled with not-yet-sent thank-you letters to past clients of events now completed.
And he pauses, in his way, and then he asks you, “Is it working? The Love Letter? Is it making you feel any better?””
“No, not at all,” you answer without a pause, but with the barest hint of smile beating out the shadowy sadness.
Which is when the purchasing manager you have always really liked because you could always tell when he wasn’t really angry and was only just kidding, says to you as he fumbles with something in his pocket, “I know what we should do….”
And he holds up a black plastic lighter and says, “Let’s take it outside and torch it.”
And you laugh, really hard, and you realize this laughter has erased, at least for now, the tears. And you plan to take a picture of the torching of this supposed good-will Love Letter that only made you cry harder all the way to work. But at the last minute, gritty plastic bag in hand, you tell the purchasing manager, “No, I can’t. I kind of feel like I have to keep it safe. Sacred.” But you giggle as you say this.
And the purchasing manager shrugs and puts his lighter back in his pocket. But he is smirking. And you feel so much like hugging this tough-guy purchasing manager.
And then it dawns on you–duh! That Love Letter wasn’t meant for you. You must take it back to its place in the gutter at the corner of the very busy intersection. It clearly was meant to cheer up someone else with it’s purple-scrawled message of love and happiness.
Except you forget to take the Love Letter with you, when, to quote a friend, you “run like Flintstone” when quitin’ time comes around. You only remember that you have forgotten it, however, when you get home.
But I won’t forget it tomorrow. Because it has to go back–back to just where I found it. I know now I picked up someone else’s Love Letter. This one was never meant for me.
Someone else, I am very sure, must need it far more than I do.