Joan Didion Cried in Chinese Laundry Mats and Later Was Very, Very Successful

Day 2 of a 7 day self-imposed writing challenge to write about my day in less than a thousand words

It is stupid to be crying on a public bus and not surprising because I am stupid. Reincarnate me as a houseplant. Turn me over to God. Give me a haircut. When I visited my grandmother earlier she had a certain joie de vivre about her, sitting in her Lay-Z-Boy with the Globe at her feet. “The first thing I do in the morning is read the obituaries and if I don’t see my name it’s a good day.” Then she lit a cigarette with all the ease that comes with being so close to death you can relax about killing yourself. I was sweaty and jealous and depressed. Why can’t I ever seize the day, just grab it by the throat until it chokes up a breath mint? There’s no reason for me to be crying on a bus. Sure it’s Monday, but being a writer I can’t tell the face of the weekend from the ass of the week. Two hours before I’d done some work on my second book while sitting outside at my parent’s house. It was hot and windy and I felt excited about the book—the pilot of inspiration was ignited and burning well. Now I’m sitting next to this woman with too many backpacks moaning internally about how I’m not emotionally resilient enough to be this young. I wipe tears from under my sunglasses and imagine I’m returning from a harrowing divorce that was just finalized on Martha’s Vineyard. He was a kind man, but he thought I was dramatic. Luckily kindness doesn’t have much to do with love. (If nothing else, I chose the right industry; making shit up suits me).

Sometimes I wonder if sadness is a cruel act of remembering everything we’ve ever lost: grocery lists, the family dog, the family’s other dog, a childhood knickknack. But instead of recalling the things themselves we recall the feeling, and it gathers force inside of us until it forces us to tears. Dams be damned. I hate buses. Probably I’m just withdrawing from caffeine and what I need is not a different life, but a good night’s sleep.

When I get off I walk from the station to my apartment through the Boston public gardens. A baby chases a duck, a man with no shirt preaches to glass windows. There’s nothing particular about the day. I would’ve forgotten it and still might if I hadn’t promised myself I’d write about it. In doing so I’m forced to pay attention, to muck around a little less in my own emotional shit pit and experience the world around me. Walnut trees. Gardenias. By the time I get in bed I’m exhausted but not sad. I write on a Target receipt Take your moods less seriously, then put it someplace I’ll remember. It’s the thing I seem most likely to forget.