The Coffin Lid

October 2, 2018 § Leave a comment

The end of summer is the day I close my pool, which this year was last Sunday. With the help of Aaron and Anneliese, I drained the veins, poured in the embalming anti-freeze, and put the coffin lid on the season, fastening it down with straps and anchors and buckles.

I spent most of this year looking for a job—which was, in itself, a full-time job. But it was a full-time job that involved not-working from home and getting paid for it.

Not paid, y’know, a lot, but enough to keep the house from going into foreclosure and me from resorting to eating the cats. I call it a win.

Thanks to being most of the year unemployed, and an abundance of gloriously hot and sunny days, I was able to spend a good deal of the summer in the water’s embrace. Alone, most of the time, just floating and watching the birds wheel and swoop, the clouds’ slow waltz, the stars and the fireflies glow.

Sometimes I listened to music—Florence and the Machine almost exclusively—but most of the time, it was just me and the sounds of the neighborhood. Planes passing overhead. Birds calling for mates. And lawnmowers; my neighbors seemed to delight in cutting their grass as soon as I jumped in for a quiet soak.

One time, it rained.

I rediscovered the joy of Rorschaching the sky. I told myself stories and wrote down the bones of a few of them. I tried to shut my brain down to just the basic autonomic functions while I floated, but usually failed.

And there were parties in the pool, and swimming beneath the moon in water still bath-warm from the heat of the day.

It all probably sounds like good times, and those moments were good. But they were also necessary therapy, vital medicine.

The past nine months were the longest I’ve been unemployed since I was a teenager. As the search wore on, the worries grew about losing my home. My health insurance. The entirety of my savings. Everything I own.

I applied for more than 70 jobs, had only five phone interviews, and landed just two in-person interviews (three, if you count that I interviewed with my current employer twice).

I had one week of unemployment benefits left when I finally found a job.

And the thousand natural shocks the flesh is heir to? I didn’t get a break from them just because I was unemployed. Life wore on and wore on me, wore me down. But when the weight of that grindstone grew too heavy, I could escape for a moment of respite and float weightless in warm water.

Now the pool is closed, and summer is over. The hard months are coming; short days and long, cold nights. But the past nine months didn’t kill me, so I know I’ll survive the next few months, as well.

You will, too. We’ll huddle through it together, waving fire at the needle-fingered beast from under layers of quilts and comforters.

So ready your torches and pull your people close. Share your blankets, steal their warms. Soon enough, the coffin lid will open and summer will live again.


 

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