My ex-husband said I was stuck. That I was so deeply entrenched in my routine that I refused to live in the now. He had complained that I lacked spontaneity.
I hadn’t been hurt by his dismal assessment. I had embraced it.
My ex-husband had no idea what it was like to live a life of never-ending spontaneous moments, whether you wanted them or not.
In my experience, impulsivity had never been a good thing. Not for me anyway.
“I’m thinking of trying to pass it off as a new fashion trend. Think I can pull it off?” I asked, smoothing out my still damp shirt.
Tess smirked. “That is a definite no.”
I snorted and we both laughed. We got into the elevator, smiling greetings to hospital staff as we shared the tight, claustrophobic space on our way up to find caffeine.
“The ladies in the ER told me it was crazy in here last night,” Tess said as we got off on the fifth floor and headed towards the ICU staff’s breakroom. I pulled out my ID and swiped it through the card reader on the door before going inside.
A couple of nurses were eating while a doctor, still in scrubs, was sleeping, sitting upright in a chair in the corner.
“Oh yeah?” I was barely listening. My thoughts were on coffee. And the donuts piled on a plate in the middle of the table. The one with pink icing and sprinkles was calling my name.
“Apparently the police brought in some homeless guy they found downtown around four this morning. He had been beaten within an inch of his life. No ID or anything. Guess one of us will be the lucky one with that case today,” Tess griped, picking up the pretty pink donut I had been eyeballing and shoved it into her mouth.
I rinsed out my mug and quickly poured my coffee, annoyed that I was now donutless.
“Then there was the lady who came in because she accidentally super glued her hand to her boyfriend’s ball sack.”
“What?” I sputtered. I had been drinking my coffee and then I wasn’t. Another stain joined the first on the front of my shirt.
“You’re definitely going to need my extra blouse,” Tess observed, handing me a wad of napkins.
“Hang on a minute, you need to explain the super glue. And the ball sack. And the hand super glued to the ball sack.” I wiped the excess coffee from my shirt, but gave up in the end.
I balled up the napkins and tossed them in the trash. Tess grabbed another donut and took a giant bite.
“Amy from the ER said that the guy was trying to hold up his pants with one hand and hold a coat over his crotch with the other. Apparently the lady thought the glue was lube. Though I’m not sure how you could confuse the two.” Tess spoke with her mouth full, so the words were muffled.
“Sounds like pure Darwinism to me,” I snickered. “Nature was ensuring those winners didn’t breed and further pollute the gene pool.”
“We miss all the good stuff! I wish someone had taken pictures,” Tess whined.
I reached across the table for a packet of sugar and succeeded in knocking over the rest of my coffee.
“I think you need to stay away from all liquids today. You’re potentially destructive.” Tess handed me another wad of napkins to clean up my mess.
“Maybe I should just go back to bed,” I complained, half irritated, half mildly pathetic.
“You could snuggle up with Mikey over there,” Tess suggested, looking across the room to the doctor, snoring like a chainsaw with drool coating his chin.
“I’ll pass,” I chuckled.
We made our way back to the elevator after I cleaned up the spilled coffee as much as I was able to. I wasn’t in a rush to start my day so I dawdled with Tess, letting her tell me about her latest eyebrow wax gone wrong.
“And look, Im, they are half the size they used to be!” Tess pointed to her forehead and I pretended to consider what she said.
“You could always draw them in with a pencil or something.” I shrugged. What did I know about makeup? Foundation and lip-gloss were the extent of my primping.
Tess looked at me as though I had started spouting German. “What?” she gasped as though I had suggested something horrible like Botox or implants.
I let her prattle on about perfect eyebrow curvature and for once I didn’t mind. I was in a mood.
A surly, crappy mood.
And I wanted to put off going back to my office for as long as possible.
It was unusual to not want to rush into my job. Work was my life. It was all I really had. I compressed my entire existence between the hours of nine and five. Those were minutes I’d smile and have actual conversation with real life people. I would deal with people’s problems and find them solutions.
It was the best part. The only part worth living.
At one time, I thought things could be different.
I used to be a wife. Not anymore.
I thought I would be a mother. My body had other ideas.
I was one of those women that had had notions about where my life would take me. Once I was in a position to make plans, I made them. Lots of them. I had made a promise to figure my life out and I had made it my mission to do just that. When I was younger, I was headstrong and overly complicated. A bit on the emotional side with a flair for the dramatic.
Years had dulled me. They had left me a shell of the girl I had been. I thought I was happy to see her go. I couldn’t afford to be the Imogen Conner I used to be. She had been all too easy to destroy.
Most lives can be narrowed down to significant moments. Mine was no different.
I knew the event that had changed me.
“Uh-oh, there’s Jason. I’m going to try to make a break for it before he sees me,” Tess whispered, shoving the reports I had given her earlier in my hand.
“I think you’re safe. He has the I’m-hunting-Imogen look on his face,” I assured her with a smile.
Tess patted my arm. “If you need me, bang against the wall three times. I’ll start a fire or something,” she said, slipping into her office.
“Why three times?”
“In case I don’t hear the first two, of course!” Tess said quickly as she darted into her office.
“Imogen, there you are. I’ve been waiting here for over ten minutes,” my boss, Jason Valerio called out. He was wearing a new hairpiece and I didn’t have the heart to tell him it still didn’t hide his receding hairline. The fifty-five-year-old man was going through a very obvious mid-life crisis. Between the toupee and the new shiny sports car in the parking garage, all he needed was a girlfriend named Bambie and he’d have every stereotype covered.