Today I fainted at work, standing at the sink changing the bandaid from a cut on my thumb. (As for the cut, it had come the day before, a slice to my right thumb. The knife bit into me and blood came and came, soaked through cotton balls and gauze until I pulled the band aids tighter.) I felt faint, took a sip of water, held myself up with the edge of the counter and then the next thing I knew I was on the floor, my eyes tearing against my will, my boss Sarah with my head in her lap and her soothing mom voice, apologizing for not catching me as I fell.
They say I flipped right over the open lower cabinet door. (I have a bruise to prove this, the line of the door pressed into the small of my back.) They say my body went completely limp, rubbery, a crash test dummy. They say I hit the ground head first. They say I was white as a sheet, a ghost, a corpse, my lips as pale as my bloodless skin.
I lost consciousness for a brief moment, less than a minute. The blissful emptiness of being nothing. But when I woke up all of my pragmatism and hard edges snapped right back into place, I told them not to call 911, I can’t afford an ambulance. I thought of the hours I wouldn’t be working as I sat in urgent care waiting rooms. I laughed with my coworkers about how dramatic the day had become, the kind of nervous laughter that bubbles up when one has seen or gone through something that could have been worse.
I was fine, though my head pounded and felt heavy and full of cotton, or maybe something heavier, graphite, lead on my shoulders. My back ached and my stomach felt drained and weak and I spent some time on the ground, with the grime that comes from so many florists parading through a space. I was fine, though they loaded me into a car and insisted I go to urgent care incase I had a concussion.
Insurance is bullshit, and it took a fair amount of jumping around before finding a place that would take me and my insurance card. I was standing the parking lot of a Zoomcare that wanted to charge me $500 out of pocket and I’m standing there feeling so defeated and angry, and resigned.
I’m still learning what it is to be single. It’s not outwardly all that different, and usually the moments of feeling adrift, aimless, are welcome. When I realize I can go anywhere I want and not tell anyone, that no one cares how long I spent walking around the Goodwill, or that I spent an entire Sunday in bed reading. I love the feeling of knowing no one wants anything from me. No one wants the good things or the bad things, every emotion I have is for myself alone.
But also when every emotion you have is for yourself alone there’s no one to call to calm you when you’re scared and hurt and frustrated, no designated person who you belong to, who must be informed.
I was supposed to go on a second date tonight and it’s not that I don’t want to, but more that I want a man who loves me to come and stroke my hair and hold my temples, to check my body for bruises and kiss me without a question on their lips. But that’s something I don’t have right now, something a person I met on Tinder a couple weeks ago can’t offer me, something I can’t call from the middle of the night. And to want those things is to want something from an alternate universe. To want those things is to want a version of myself that isn’t real quite yet, and to feel this loneliness is to feel the grief for the lack of something I can’t even name.
Instead I sat with my coworker Shannon, and she listened to me talk about boys and made jokes with me about the whole situation, took photos of me in every state in the hospital bed. Clothed, gowned, under one blanket and then two. It’s not that these relationships with my coworkers are tender, but that there’s a certain tenderness to being allowed space. Space in which I am sometimes brash and loud and funny, and sometimes quiet and pulled back. And instead I texted the people in the world who I knew would want to know and let them love me and be worried for me. And it’s not a man holding me, but I can string enough threads out to the people who love me, and I can stand shakily on my own weak legs, or at least let myself cry in the shower as I wash the day off, and curl up with my seven pillows.