It's a Friday. Time to come home.
You spend all of class time worrying about a bunch of different outcomes with the bus: it's early and you miss it; you get sidetracked and you're late; the bus is late and you get to the city late; you'll have to sit with an uncomfortable stranger on the bus; you bought the wrong ticket; you got the times mixed up; class is going to run over.
You spend the whole walk to the bus worrying about if you have enough time to buy a bottle of water. You get there 20 minutes early. You decide not to buy a water.
The bus is on time, you have the right ticket, you get a seat by yourself. You go to log onto the wifi and it doesn't let you use Youtube or Pandora. Now you can't listen to music on your phone to keep you relaxed.
You spend the bus ride regretting every decision you've made in college, doubting every plan you made, and questioning whether or not college is worth it. You also spend the bus ride listening to voice memos of covers you made, but never shared with anyone online. Some of them, you'll admit, you liked, and some of them you're very critical about. The critic always wins.
The bus starts nearing the city and it's twenty minutes after the estimated time of arrival. You still have to go through the Lincoln Tunnels. You start wiggling in your seat. It would really help if you could listen to any other sound except your own voice. You try watching your show on one of your apps, but it freezes every fifteen seconds. You give up and focus on the road.
Thirty minutes go by. You already missed two of the possible trains you could've taken home. You message your mom to look up other trains. Switch positions in your chair. Another fifteen minutes goes by. Another two trains. The wiggling is worse. Where is your music? Why won't it let you use Youtube? You take out your laptop, same thing. No Youtube. No Pandora. No music. No trains. More wiggling. Another fifteen minutes.
You start muttering under your breath, you just want to go home. Why is the bus driver taking a back way? Wait, he's right in front of the train station! Ask him to let you out.
"Can't, miss," he says, "have to wait 'til we reach our final destination."
So much traffic. So much honking. Why do you love the city? Everyone's impatient. Wait, you're impatient. Well, you're not the only one. The couple behind you just missed a meeting, but they seem calm and collected. Why are you not calm and collected? Stop wiggling. Wiggling proceeds.
You're so nauseous. The bus keeps stopping and going, stopping and going, stopping and going. Switch positions in your chair. Why are there so many people? Why do cars keep cutting the bus off? Why can't you just go home?
Another fifteen minutes. Another three trains. Ask mom for more train times. These seem more ideal. 5:05? Should be fine. It's 4:47, you're only a few blocks away. You can make the 5:05 express home.
Nope. More traffic. Increase wiggling.
It's 4:53. You can't even see the bus terminal. The city is so packed. You're going to miss the 5:05 express train. Ask mom for more train times. Switch positions in your chair. Continue to wiggle.
5:10. The bus is finally pulling into the terminal. You get out, pushing your way past the driver and the person ahead of you. You have 8 blocks to get to the train station, buy your ticket, and catch the 5:22 express train home. Mom told you there was a 5:22 to the station closer to your sister's house and a 5:23 closer to your house, but you'd have to switch. You hate switching. You stick with 5:22 close to your sister's house, but you have 6 blocks to go. Where's the wifi? You're in the fricken city and there's no free wifi? How will you tell mom you made it there safely? She'll know. 3 more blocks.
Don't walk near the homeless people, they might stop and ask for money. Don't walk close to the people smoking, you have a cold so it's hard enough to breathe. You fucking hate the people who drag their luggage behind them. You have long legs and you're thin, you bend to get around them, quickening your pace. 1 block.
A whole pack of tourists get in your way, some stop to take pictures, some stop while you're walking behind them, some are dragging their luggage. You mutter some curses and try to weave your way through them. You wish you could play Pokemon Go.
Finally, you're in the train station, there's a ticket machine open, you know the routine. One-way. Penn Station to Ronkonkoma. Peak. $18.25. Insert debit. You put it in the wrong way. Your hands are shaking, your back is sweating, you just want to listen to music. Insert card. It works. Grab your ticket, find your track.
You get to your track, you take the escalator. Your train is already at the track. It's 5:20. Everyone's walking down the escalator except the person in front of you standing in the middle of the step. You push past them and curse and run onto your train. You made it, but no seats. You sit on the floor. Don't think about the germs. Don't think about the germs.
The train ride is fine, but when you get off, your parents aren't waiting for you in their usual spot. Why aren't they in their usual spot? Did mom think you took the 5:23 to the station closer to our house? Where's the wifi? Optimum wifi–try it. You try it and then you remember–you have Verizon now. You're pacing back and forth at the train station because your phone is out of minutes and you don't have 4G and you can't get wifi. Where's Mom? Did she really think you took the 5:23? Why aren't they here? You think you see someone getting into a fight. Run away. You run to the other side of the station. No Mom. You run all around the station trying to find free wifi, you start cursing aloud and crying. Why isn't Mom here? Why would she think you took the 5:23? You always go to Ronkonkoma. More tears. No wifi. No Mom.
You turn up the stairs–there's Dad!!
You find out they were running a little late–the panic subsides. Your head is clear. Time for dinner at your sisters.
Dinner was great. You were happy to see your sisters and your nieces and nephew. You finally got real pizza and it's the first meal you've actually enjoyed in weeks. The only thing that'd make it better is to see your boyfriend, but he'll be at your house soon.
You're almost home now and you're ready to see your dog–who you've missed the most–but anxiety has you in a bit of a grip because you have a headache and there are too many thoughts in your head to make sense of what's bothering you. That's what happens when you miss a night of your medicine–now you'll never relax. The only thing that calms you down is looking at dogs with your dad while cuddling your dog. Your boyfriend was waiting to surprise you in your room, but you anticipated that he'd pull a stunt like that. You really want to hug him, but the racing thoughts are making your skin itchy and you don't want to be touched.
Mom is impatient because she doesn't know your thoughts are racing, she blames it on "attitude." Finally, you let yourself look at your boyfriend and you realize he was the cure all along. The racing thoughts subside. It's just you and him. He embraces you for a hug and you feel instantly better. He asks if something's bothering you–because he's also your best friend and knows you better than yourself–you let him know that you will talk about it during alone time that night.
Now you can enjoy time with Tom. He makes you laugh and smile and you are so happy, the racing thoughts have washed away, but then it's time for a shower. Showers should be a good time. They should be relaxing, but taking a shower with OCD is the worst.
You put on Pandora (now that you can finally listen to music) and the first song that comes on is Nothing Left To Lose by Mat Kearney. Groovy, powerful and thought-provoking, perfect for an OCD trigger. You get in the shower and you wonder what it is that's going to bug you this time. As always, it's your hair.
You just dyed it brown after having it blonde for almost 6 years. The blonde you had was outgrown and you had major roots, but they were blending in so it looked natural. The blonde was almost golden and you hate gold in your hair, but everyone loved that color on you. You've been looking at recent selfies and you really did look better blonde, but you like brown. It's not even brown, it's a dark blonde with a hint of brown–like your natural color!–so why wouldn't it look good? If it's close to your natural color and you still have blonde highlights in it, why wouldn't people think it looks good? Why don't you look pretty in this new color? Why can't you look pretty in the shit you like–short, dark-ish hair. Tom didn't like the short hair–he asked you to grow it out. Mom thought it was too short so you grew it to the length it is now, but why can't you just look good in short hair? Why can't you look good in the color you like? Well, if you like it, why does it matter if others don't? Because you want approval. You just want confirmation you're doing something right. Every day in college someone makes you feel like you're doing something wrong–professors, friends, your roommate. You haven't been depressed and unconfident in a very long time and now you're a freshman college; somewhere new with people you thought were supposed to accept you and you don't feel accepted. You don't feel like you fit in. The fucking usual. You do your makeup pretty good, so why can't your hair just be fricken decent? If you had good hair, you already have a nice face so then you'd be attractive and then you could make friends. That's how it always seemed to work in high school. Anyone that tries to tell you otherwise is a fool. This is the reality of it: they judge you by your looks. That's how it is. Another key: even if you aren't that good-looking, but you act like it, people will still like you. Great. You guess you're fucked either way then.
Showers over. What the hell was that?
You have a new idea for an article topic. Time to write.