Chapter 117: The Day After

On October 1st, I woke up after a couple hours of sleep and put on my pants, my shirt, my badge, my shoes, stood in front of the mirror and slapped myself in the face. It wasn’t something I planned so much as it was something I watched happen. Seeing my own look of shock woke me up more than the slap.

No time to get rested the normal way. This was the end of the fiscal quarter.

At the office I resumed the normal routine that had been my life for the better part of the preceding month. Force every non-work-thought out of your body and force every work-thought onto the keyboard. Just keep repeating “everything will be possible when this is done; everything will be possible when this is done” until you actually believe it. Forgo enjoying any pleasurable pursuit; you haven’t finished your work, and it has to get done. There’s no alternative, it’s just something that you have to do. And whatever falls by the wayside, well, you got here by your own power.

I write and I think and I write and I think and I rewrite, I print and I stack the folders on a shelf, and then I wait. For an acknowledgment of correctness or of non-correctness. Most of the time it’s passive, and I realize as the clock ticks on that nothing’s wrong, everything I did is fine, it’s all checked and working its way through the system. I’m done.

Then this remarkable thing happens.

Everything I had bottled up for the last month, every desire to do something fun, every itch to start a project, every thought that said “Hey, Sam, you should really take care of this entire facet of your life that you’ve been ignoring”, they all come bubbling up with the force of a runaway geyser.

I walk out of the building and the world has been reborn. Everything is new, because everything that had been for the last month has been destroyed and replaced with everything I held back thinking “you can do that when you’re done”.

I hate myself for doing it, and I do it every single time. The heroic final effort. I’ve said “I’m turning over a new leaf” so many times it no longer has any meaning, and should be removed from online idiom listings. But this exact moment has happened so often and in exactly the same way that I’ve begun to cherish it. It simultaneously reminds me of everything I’m capable of and many things I’m not.

Monday afternoon. Freedom.

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