This is a different kind of tired.
This is the kind of tired that may have permanently lost potentially the single most valuable tangible item I own. This is the kind of tired that drowns me, that puts a film over the earth, that beckons instantaneous tears and slow movements. The kind of tired that makes everything comfortable, and warmth absolutely enveloping.
After school today I drove an hour and thirty minutes, then took two wrong turns on two separate high ways, making me 15 minutes late for a special and planned far in advance meeting with two incredibly busy men. It turns out that I and the three other TFA alumns that are completing the graduate work at the same time have been collectively struggling. In August, we were emailed an internship manual and given deadlines for submissions of our internship log. There are 36 projects to be completed by the first week in May. As of yesterday afternoon, I had completed seven. Clearly not enough. 18 would have been the goal, had I taken the time to simply cut the task in half.
I drove and had no excuse for being late. This is not like all the RA staff meetings I was late to in college; this is not like all the studio finals I hopped into ten minutes late; this is not like when I pick my students up from activity five minutes late every day…
This kind of late is catastrophic born of trivial.
There is a diamond ring set in plain gold. I wear it some days for strength, others for glitz, most days for the security that comes with a full circle. There is magic in rings, bracelets, necklaces. Curves that embrace you eternally, infinitely, that promise protection and remembrance and solid continuous movement. This ring is mine, has been mine for four years. Before me, it lived with my mother’s engagement and wedding rings, all worn together in a big clump for years. Before her, it lived on my grandmother’s ring finger. When she died (when my mother was four), my mother inherited it. Despite having four sisters all grieving her death, the baby (my mom) was given it, because she had the least time with her mother. Because both of them were the babies of their families.
And 52 years later, when the baby of the baby died, it was given to the next baby: Caroline.
There is peace in a ring, there is calm in something grasping even just the smallest part of you. I don’t wear it every day, but I keep it in the same place each night. I check to see it’s there. I feel panicky when I have to take it off somewhere not at home.
But somehow, fifteen minutes after leaving the meeting that I was late for and lost on the way to, hours after a school day where I was so tired I literally actually sat down for more than thirty minutes during a class, after staying up to complete three more grad assignments, after baking Christmas cookies all weekend, after learning to teach in three years and learning to cope without a mother for four, after a life of loss and forgetfulness and a false sense of maturity blooming at 26, after all of this, I noticed I was not wearing this ring that I did wear to school.
I am driving. I call the man who owns the building. No answer.
I’ve been tired. I could have taken it off before I left. I calmly drive the hour and a half home. I do not cry.
I check the bathroom, I check the front room, I check the bathroom, I check my room, the front room, the kitchen, the dining room, the bathroom, the kitchen, the front room, the bathroom, my room, the living room, the dining room, my bag, my notebook, my laptop, my room, the bathroom, the front room.
We all lose things. It is inevitable to lose someone you love. It is inevitable to lose your own life. It is inevitable to lose objects, and friendships, and fights, and wars. On the phone I’m told “it was bound to–” and I don’t listen. I say, “THEN WHAT IS THE POINT. WHAT IS THE POINT TO HAVE SOMETHING IN A BOX HELD THERE AND NEVER USED OR SEEN. WHAT IS THE POINT OF HIDING FOR THE SAKE OF NOT LOSING?”
I need that ring for strength, for remembrance, for love. I need that ring to push me forward, to pull me dragging, to remind the inside of my finger when I slide the diamond toward my palm. I need it worn, not safe. I need to risk losing it to have it’s full worth.
I texted the man who owns the building. I wait for the operations manager to check for me in the morning. I stop crying. I get into bed. I try to sleep.