Tuesday, November 2, 2010

Waiting for Ten Dollars

Last night I came home and was feeling just awful. The kind of awful where you climb into bed with your clothes on and manage to fall asleep even though every single light on is in the house. You manage to fall asleep in your pony tail, in your contact lenses, in your work clothes. If you were wearing shoes more elaborate than slip on flats, you'd probably be going to bed with your shoes on as well.

I drove home with the sort of lead-footed purpose the bank robber has rushing away from the scene of the crime. The sort of speed that anyone who calls you while driving will know from the angry tone in your voice that you are driving fast and like a madwoman. The anxiety of wanting to Just Get Home and the liminal nature of driving to get there, that the day is finally over, and what a day it was. Only until the key is in the door and the doorknob turned can we assume that you are no longer at work and you can again breathe a sigh of relief. The ride home is a long time to hold your breath.

But I had another reason to rush. It wasn't just that feeling of Wanting To Be Home After A Day Like Today. I had to hurry and get home because someone was coming over to buy three bags of clothing I was selling on Craigslist. For $10, three bags of clothes. Cheaper than a bag sale at your local charity thrift shop. And yet, the respondents to my Craigslists ads rarely come. They stand me up, all the time, to appointments that sit amid my chaotic schedule of rushing home, inhaling dinner, and going back out the door to nightly practices.

For Ten Dollars, this dance I do with Craigslist transactors makes an already stressful life even more so. And tonight, after A Day Like Today, I wasn't hopeful. This lady wasn't coming. I didn't care. They hardly ever come like they say, and I am on to the next respondent to my Craigslist ad, in hopes they will arrive and cart away my unloved clothing and leave behind the ten dollar bill I love so much.

Our date is for 6:30, which comes and goes. Now I slump into bed for my date with misery and exhaustion, a menage a trois. But at 8:30 p.m. the door bell rings and now I am rushing rushing down the stairs. A size 10 lady to sort through my size 12 clothes.

Just had a baby, she says. Nothing in her closet fits her, she says. So thankful I have these clothes, she says, now she can have something to wear. Take your time, I say. Feel free to dump out the bags entirely, check everything out, I'm sincere. Lots of variety of seasons and work and casual, I say. I'm very casual these days, she says.

Many thanks all around as things look good to her. "Here. Two dollars extra. It's a lot of stuff," she says. I, surprised, thank her. Offer to help her carry the bags -- bags made of the cheapest white plastic that always seems to tear at the slightest pull or heft of weight at the most unfortunate moment -- back to her car, but no, she is already at her car with them, pulling away into the night. She, rushed herself and holding her breath perhaps.

After a successful transaction I usually turn celebratory and make that crisp "yes it's money" noise you get when you straighten out a paper bill, mock inspecting it and proudly holding it above your head, a head which seems taller now that your back is straighter with pride that you have money in hand.

But this time I tossed it nonchalantly on my dresser, as a regular john would to his paid lady's furniture after another sort of transaction is over.

This time I realized what is ten dollars anyway. And at the same time, what is it not. It was everything and nothing. The thing I am waiting for and the thing there is never enough of and the thing that is gone even after it gets here. It was so unimportant and so very important.

The ten dollars that never comes, but when it does, sometimes it is twelve. More or nothing at all: c'est la capitalism, n'est-ce pas?

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