I wake up early, and the room is cold, my breath visible. I burrow deeper into the mound of down blankets under which I’ve been sleeping, press my eyes together tightly, then spring up all at once, like a winter swimmer holding her breath before plunging into an icy lake.
I hurry into socks and shirts and pants and shoes; the quicker that I am gone, the sooner that I will be sitting warm inside the bus that will carry me to the train station. I glance in the mirror before throwing on coat and backpack. Outside I brush my teeth with a blue toothbrush and a water bottle, and I spit white on white on the frozen ground outside the door.
The bus takes me to a train takes me to a train takes me to Frankfurt. An hour after leaving home I emerge from the book I have been reading and walk through two sets of glass doors and into the publishing company where I write two days a week. A plastic card gets me past the stainless steel turnstile at reception.
At lunch, where I fill my plate from the salad bar like I will never eat again, I see my hand beside that of a colleague and I almost laugh out loud. I wonder if they have noticed the dirt on my knuckles and beneath my nails. If they have, it doesn’t bother them. When I was hired I had a pink dread mullet, and I am not in customer service.
The entire day is spent researching stories on the internet and maintaining a website. The more time that I spend on the internet, the longer it takes me to leave. It is an either/or situation. I can spend two months away, estranged and freaked-out by the brief computer contact I do have, and then in a rush and a whirl and an intoxicating spin I can find myself back in the thick of it, thinking about it long after the screen has been turned off, suddenly invested in comments and statuses and rss feeds. Every day it takes longer and longer to come home.
And so on the days when I don’t work, when the crowded train has carried me home for the last time each week, I breath a loud sigh of relief, chop some wood, finish a book, and more or less ignore the internet for the five days I have between “workends.” Hell, if it’s not anything else (and it is many things), it’s two days’ saved firewood.