The stories we tell ourselves: a one-sided anatomical dissection of a moment.
Lilia sneezes. I ask “do you need a napkin?” She says, “no thanks.” I say, “I’ll get you one anyway, just in case.” I fold it into fourths, a small and neat square, and tuck it under her coffee cup. She immediately picks it up, absently wipes her chest, and crumples it into the cup as trash. Through my lens, this tiny interaction is a microcosm of our mental disconnect. We are on two different wave lengths. I feel unseen, unheard, my gesture lost. I suppose I was thinking, “let me take care of you in the future, I will prepare something to make sure you do not have nasal discomfort for the rest of the time we are at this table.” I grab the napkin, fold it like a maitre’d, and set it down as an offering. I am feeling preparatory, proper. It’s a small act with a small piece of trash, but it’s a gesture of attention. Lilia is in a different headspace. To her the napkin might be here "for the immediate little spray I released on my chest, it’s a tool to address the now. And it is disposable. There are plenty of napkins, this is one of them. This one is earmarked for the mist on my chest.” And so she wipes in a quick half-hazard sort of way and then tosses it into her mostly-empty coffee cup, signifying that it is now trash, used and complete. I see my proposed investment in future comfort tossed aside, not even noticed. "Now we’re back where we started,” I feel. “Her nose has no tools, no protection for the future.” I watch her use her hands to wipe her nose. “But there is a napkin, folded and ready for this exact moment, sitting in the trash. This is what we were preparing for! This is the moment I’d anticipated! Baby! I’m trying to protect you! Why won’t you receive my protection? Don’t you even see as you wipe your nose raw with your rough fingers that there’s something soft and gentle I prepared for you?!" It’s probably soaked up coffee by now. It’s probably beyond saving. And so now we sit. I sit. Restless and leaking with attention pointed in every sort of different direction.
Oh wait, she just took it out of the cup to wipe her nose. Cool. I hope she feels better soon.
There’s a fly in buzzing around our table. I wish it would stop landing on my hands while I’m trying to type.