Sunday, April 1, 2007

Got Water?

Jeff never read my lunch invitation.

It's a little after noon and he hasn't stopped by for lunch. I'm assuming that he thought that I was heading to get apples or that he is swamped with work.

I prepared my lunch around 10:30. I finally cooked that buttercup squash and carefully scooped out about a cup's worth (I eyeballed it.) I took out slice after slice of deli turkey and meticulously took off the brown rim before piling it neatly across from the squash.

I washed a kiwi and took out the cookie that Jeff had given me a few days ago.

I arranged it all on the table. A decent presentation.

And sat.

And moved the squash about. I pushed the plate aside and breathed. I picked up my novel and edited a paragraph or two. My eyes drifted to my plate.

I'm hungry. But I don't want to eat.

Should I go find Jeff?

What if he's already eaten? What if he's already taken a break? What if he didn't want to eat with me?

I sit at my computer and go through a few emails, copy and paste a few articles into the FYI news, and think.

I don't want to eat alone.

But I'm not really alone.

I'm never truly alone.

I could run out and get the apples and then eat.

But that could prove dangerous. I've only had a serving of bran flakes so far today.

I've been fine before.

But I know better.

So I write. And imagine that Nancy and Aaron are waiting for me at the table.

I have to do this.

I need to eat.

But there's too much food. I don't need that much.

I ponder, Maybe I should go to Jeff and ask him to just come and look at my lunch. A reality check.

But I'm embarrassed.

I'd rather not eat.

But I have to eat.

So I go back to the table and sit down. Fork in hand, I stare at the plate.

Eat, it's okay.

Don't do it.

I take a tiny bite.

Oh, all right! Go on. You can always throw up afterwards.

I eat everything - the turkey, the squash, the kiwi, even the chocolate chip cookie that Jeff gave me. Bite by tiny bite. Pausing often to contemplate stopping.

It's gone.

My lips and fingers are oily from the cookie. I down a pint of water. Then another.

I walk to a more secluded ladies room, a third bottle of water in my fist. I guzzle half of it. Then enter a stall.

I gaze into the eye of the porcelain god.

And turn around.

And wash my hands.

I can't do it.

I finish the bottle of water as I walk back to the galley.

I refill the bottle. Warm water feels best going down.

I walk back to the library. The sloshing of the quart and a half of water is audible. My stomach hurts. I'm overfull.

I should throw up.

I walk out of the library. To Jeff's lab.

Please be there. He doesn't even need to be alone. Just be there.

I exit the library, take a step down the hall. A man with pushed up sleeves on his plaid shirt opens the door at the end of the hall.

Jeff.

I grab the library door before it closes and sneak back inside my cell.

And gulp bottle number four.

I turn on some music.

A watery burp emerges.

I swallow.

Damn.

I open a paper in plastic bag and place it next to me.

Just in case.

After swallowing a few more burps, I collapse the bag.

I'm not going to throw up.

I finish the fourth bottle of water.

And sip my tea.

Even though my stomach is at the brim. And my head hurts. And I can't get warm.

I should go find Jeff.

But I don't have a good excuse to seek him out. What if he's not there and one of the Daves is? I have to have a realistic story for looking for him.

So I IM Melody.

But it isn't the same.

I mentally replay Jeff's last visit. He doesn't know that Aaron did get an appointment.
An excuse to find him.

I walk down with my mug of cooling tea. I stop outside to listen to the whirrs for a moment before turning around and going to the ladies room.

Twice more I walk down to his lab, stop, listen, then turn around and return to the library.
Just isn't a good excuse.

Besides, Jeff has never said that it was okay to go find him. He isn't always alone. That one Dave is a suspicious, nosy sort. He might think the wrong things and get us into trouble.

Think, think, triple think.

I don't want to be alone.

I take another walk.

To Jeff's lab.

Only this time, I leave my mug behind.

I walk on stiff legs.

Odd.

I pause outside his lab.

Should I, shouldn't I, should I, shouldn't I?

I walk passed. The quieter Dave comes through the door at the end of the hall. We exchange pleasantries as I glide through the fire doors. I visit the ladies once more. My body is processing the water quickly.

Weakling.

If only Nancy were here... Or Aaron. Someone that has reassured me time and again that it's okay to seek them out, anytime, anywhere.

My eyes beg to be closed.

I'm alone, I'm alone, alone, alone, alone.

I search my mental addressbook.Who can I find? Who can I go to in person for reassurance that I'm not alone?

Betsy - in New Orleans this week.
Melody - at HQ
Sherrie - gone for the day
Holly? Linda? Esther? Not the kind of talk I need right now. I need to be able to get a word in edgewise.

I just want to sleep, but I'm scared - what if it isn't really tiredness? What if I messed up my electrolytes with all the liquid?

I'm not really alone. Aaron would tell me to eat something. So I nibble a cracker while my head is between my knees.

I'm more awake now.

It's almost 3 o'clock.

I hope Aaron is okay. He's been at the doctor's a long time.

I take another walk by Jeff's lab. The lights are on, but I don't approach. I walk to the windows to check if his car is in the lot. I can't tell. I go to the ladies then head back to the library.

What do I do? What do I do?

I could take a walk in the parking lot - get some fresh air.

That might be a good idea. Something to drown out the thoughts that I can't seem to combat today. I check my email first.

Jeff replied to my lunch email.

"Sorry I missed you."

Yeah. That makes two of us.

I answered, "Don't worry about it."

It's 3:11.

I clean out my sent mail in Lotus Notes and notice another new message.

"Did you have a good lunch"

As I typed a reply, the library door opens.

Jeff walks in. Mom-me sighs in relief.

Connection reestablished.

I answer his email in person. Told him about the lunch I had and the half gallon of water as chaser. I omitted the internal turmoil I lived through for the past four hours. He had eaten his lunch in the lab, working to catch up as he had arrived late.

We talk for a bit about our weekend plans. [And how Todd was gunning for me, although he wasn't too horrible last night.]

He leaves and I get an email from Aaron.

I run out and catch Jeff as he is closing up the lab.

I'm a bit slow on the uptake with some of the things Jeff says. Very unlike me.

"I've never been drunk, but I imagine this is how it feels."

A water hangover.

Who'da thunk?

I suppose that’s why they call it water intoxication.

I learned a valuable lesson this afternoon.

Never let embarrassment stop you from getting help.

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