10 June 2011

Stability in the system

I know this moment of stability is about to be blown open by a tiny, screaming baby, but for other reasons, I have been a little bit off balance today.

When I got done with my presentation, I came into town in Lancaster and expected to spend the 6 to 8pm period in McDonalds, enjoying Wifi and chicken salad. I was able to do this for about 30 minutes before a woman told me that I needed to move: she was closing the first floor section where I was and although I could go downstairs, I had to move. This should have been no problem, but I made a mistake and packed up instead of staying.

I was still hungry after eating at McDonald's, but at McDonald's the Internet had distracted me enough that I wasn't thinking about it. Out on the street though, I was very hungry, ravenously so. Knowing, as I do, exactly how many kilocalories I had already consumed, I was a bit concerned that I was going to eat too much, but it got to the point that I just had to eat. I got a sandwich and some other stuff, enough to keep me under my limit for the day, but right at the limit. I ate ravenously and was still hungry.

A metaphor, of course: being hungry is a metaphor. Yesterday was the highest I had been in a while insofar as getting what I wanted. I had been successful, but that only meant that this thing that had been consuming me for the last week or so had moved into a new, more difficult stage and although I had achieved something that was for me, quite significant, I was realising that I wasn't going to be able to explain how big of a deal it was (for me at least) and that I had probably gotten all the satisfaction I would from it. The next day would be another set of challenges and it would mean nothing. My train was still two hours from leaving, if the train were coming at least I would be able to get away, be able to fall asleep for a couple of hours, but it was like being in suspended animation. Nowhere to go and all the shops had already closed. I went to the station, had another cup of coffee, was still hungry.

I got up this morning and weighed myself, thinking that I felt empty. I was. Still though, no satisfaction. It didn't mean I could eat more because I knew that all I had done was drive all the moisture out of my body from walking the day before. But what I wanted really was to sit and eat and eat and eat until I couldn't eat anymore. I wanted, if I'm honest, to binge: eat a whole cake. A whole package of Oreos. What a trap, I thought to myself: I suppose this is the moment you learn to be healthy like when you run a long distance and it doesn't count, nothing you do counts until the third hour. And then you push the limit, you improve, you become better. I have been in this place before, I thought, and need more than anything to stay the course continue on in equilibrium instead of giving in. Eat, yes, but don't lie to yourself about what eating can do for you.

I got on my bike and rode to work, made a claim for my train ticket yesterday, talked to my colleague who knew that I had been in Lancaster and how much it meant to me, ate a very early lunch and realised I wasn't making any progress. I decided to leave my bike at work and walk home. Walking would cure this. I walked over the football pitch behind the university and was struck by how suddenly tired I was. I got to the edge of the pitch and threw down my bags and fell asleep on the ground. A moment of stability.

For some reason, the sounds of the cars in the distance sounded like the past to me. Like America. Why was I remembering America suddenly--what memory was this? I was, as you are when you sleep on a cloudy day outside, slipping in and out of different levels of consciousness. Just on the edge of deep sleep, but still, the cars in the distance.

The story ends there, laid out on the football pitch, trying to shake the weight of the world. A baby is coming any day now. I had sat on the sofa in the morning with Mei as she watched a DVD and I told Yoko about my trip. Naomi came down and hugged me. She needs to get school uniforms for the first time. Already, I thought, as she crawled onto my lap and looked in my eyes: already we have had a fifth of our time together. You're a little girl now, you need school uniforms.

But don't you know you can't grow up before me? I need to beat you to adulthood. Promise me you won't catch up with me too soon.