Saturday, January 9, 2010

Work is the new grey

On Monday, I did not want to go to work. I really did not want to go. I slept late; I dragged out the morning preparations. The Christmas break had sped by in a twinkling. Our cherished children had visited and left again. We had feasted, drunk wine, skied along ridges, played with the dogs. Now Monday loomed bleak and ugly, the start of a new week, a new year, a new decade of work, work, working. Grey. Damp cold that gets in your bones. Inescapable.

I put one foot in front of the other, drove to work, unlocked the office, let myself take it slowly. I watered the plants, dry after ten days of my absence. I greeted colleagues and inquired about their holidays, my voice faint and echoing as if coming from the bottom of a giant tin can. My hands flapped like squid, and my feet dragged along the carpet like disobedient pets. I clasped my hands in front of my belly, wrung my fingers, crossed my legs. I hardly seemed to be in my body, but gazed on its awkward postures with annoyance from outside.

The litany wrote itself inside my brain: overdue unfinished tasks, too much, more work flooding in, trapped, don't show it. I organized my desk, deleted email, and started with some easy tasks. Plod, plod, plod. Made it through the day.

Tuesday, inside a cold grey metal can. Bent under my burden, a basket of boulders. Wednesday, a reprieve. A caring boss talked me through an impossible task, offered help, extended a deadline. His voice was as warm as a mug of hot chocolate.

Thursday, freezing rain coated my car like molten glass. In windy gusts, pins of rain flew at my eyes. Tires left slush puddle ruts. A medical test, finally after months of worry, ruled out the feared possibility. And now there was a yellow glow around me and my flesh was warm and vital. Back at the office, I chatted with staff, made decisions, and completed tasks, each neatly clipped and filed.

Friday, I'm back. Back at work, my usual efficient self. Back at home with a laugh and a hug. The year is full of possibilities.


  1. Your description of the first week back is marvellous. Feet like disobedient pets! I feel sorry for them *and* you!

  2. I live with four disobedient pets, so my feet have good role models.

  3. GAH--I think I had the same first week back you did, sans the ability to describe it in such a vivid and (after the fact!) hilarious way. Your details were perfect. My hands flap about like squids too.

    I'm glad Friday was kinder. Your boss sounds great--I'm self-employed. My boss can be a real . . . ;-D

  4. Yeah, those little voice-in-the-head bosses are the worst kind. Hope your writing class went well tonight!