Black tea and the dull warmth of a dark year

The derpiest cactus in the world guards my books.

The derpiest cactus in the world guards my books.

I hold my tea mug to my chest; heat radiates from the ceramic, warming my body. I set aside the book I am reading. I take a sip of tea. I set aside the mug. I take up the book. It is comforting to focus my thoughts and attention on a single thing. The quiet in my mind is alarming, almost, the quiet of things finished.

It was anticlimactic submitting my law school applications; I clicked and checked boxes and double-checked my information. Bizarre, it is, checking and double-checking your own story, as if some biographical tidbit could emerge in the questionnaire. My story feels disjointed this year. As I moved forward on the LSAT and law school plans, I backslid into poor health and chronic fatigue, the kind measured in sick days and tea refills.

Waiting has taken on a certain degree of comfort this year; I cling to the uncertainty of law school applications that await. This year, I waited for medical results and diagnoses. I waited to finally feel better. I waited for my LSAT results. Now, I’m waiting for admission decisions.

My birthday is in just over two months, and I certainly won’t ask, “What’s my age again?” This year will stick with me in profound ways, extending far beyond specialty menus and the gluten-free aisle.

I hug my tea a little tighter to my chest; the steam has dissipated into a dull warmth. I forget it’s there, almost, lost in the rhythm of the book I’m reading, a memoir of narrative poetry by Maxine Hong Kingston. The mug’s dull warmth fades in an out of my awareness, but it’s there. This year is like that, too. It is always there, comforting me with its own dull warmth. It reminds me of my own resilience, and it reminds me that stepping back to heal isn’t a sign of timidity. It reminds me that it’s OK to simply exist in whatever state I’m in; after all, it hard to feel well and empowered if you don’t first understand what it means to feel ill and powerless.

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