I stop reading the news. Time, usually circular, has gone flat—an old ribbon unraveling against the horizon, or a paper brochure unfolding without end. If this were a movie, the repetition would give way to meaning. Instead it’s just wooden floors, seven hundred square feet, a large glass window glinting like a closed portal. My bookshelves stand patiently, unaware that their library counterparts have been frozen in ice. I think of my grandmother, who stayed home for sixty years to clean and cook and wait, and wonder what songs she hummed while mopping the floors.
I watch Orange is the New Black, where time is also flat—the inmates’ sentences passing episode after episode in a straight, single-file line—and think, at least this isn’t prison. It’s not prison and it’s not transcendentalism (note: I am paying far more than Thoreau’s $28.12 for a solitude I didn’t really want). It’s something in between, if in between meant infinite. It’s waiting in a time capsule, watching dust bunnies skitter along perpendicular edges, alternating between books and dirty dishes and animal crackers in a French braid that goes on forever. I don’t teach myself how to French braid; I don’t finally solve a Rubik’s cube or sign up for online classes or hum while mopping the floor. I am jobless, aimless, motionless: floating like a dust girl along a Mobius strip inside of a dream. The piano basks in the light as if hibernating, or praying. I wonder what will happen when my pen runs out of ink, when my Netflix queue runs out of shows, when my brain runs out of words.
The words come and go, like ice patches in winter. I emerge from bed, either mid-day or mid-night, and swallow poems whole, dive headfirst into old plots, shuffle sheet music and set off to create. There’s the bullet journal that keeps collapsing into chaos, the novel I’ll never finish, the letters in my head that I’ll never put to paper. Still, I keep trying. I type until the clacking keys drive me to nausea, trace melodies on piano keys, call old friends and ask about their lives. Time rolls slowly and I skate along, sometimes gliding, sometimes catching my balance and wondering how much farther there is to go.
In the end it’s a waiting game: waiting to see if anyone will walk past your window, or wave, or cough; waiting to hear bad news about your coworker, your neighbor, your friend. In books and movies there’s always a plunge—the ice cracks and the world slips in a single splash and time lurches, like a rollercoaster going down. There is normalcy and there is disarray but there is never the in between, the indefinite mopping of floors, the inevitable slipping between smooth ice and stale patches. I’ve been waiting for forever and it’s only just begun. The clock strikes something o’clock, and I dust off my Rubik’s cube and twist one face forward, not quite sure what will happen next.