two bits

Optimism visited me yesterday, in a roll of quarters. I'd come up against one of those moments where life demanded an energy I couldn't remember ever having, much less summon. Instead I just sort of wilted, like a flower finally giving in to five o'clock heat. Okay, well. That's that, then. Held out as long as I could. I looked around, desperate to find something, anything that I could conquer, even if it was some small and meaningless domestic chore. Bad idea. A red hot wire of shame electrified me when I saw what a mess the apartment had become. Oh yeah, there's the energy I need. 

I hurled a round of texts at my boyfriend. They started out reasonable enough (Baby I'm feeling overwhelmed. I need more help with housework) but grew into a list of demands anyway. He received them calmly, as he does all of my pitches, no matter how I curve the ball. He is so fucking Zen. It is so fucking beautiful.

Clean bedding seemed an attainable and worthy goal, so I headed to the cabinet where we keep the quarters. Two rolls, fresh in their orange and white wrappers, sat in the tacky stained-glass, footed desert bowl I can't bring myself to ditch. Undoing them proved my undoing. My non-existent fingernails combined with the tightness with which they'd been bound at the bank or the mint or in the bowels of hell, possibly...nope, sorry, these quarters have no interest in helping you today. LOL.

That trick where you hit the roll against something to break it? I skipped that one. I opted for the other trick, the one where you take the physical object that is frustrating you and fling it away violently. Haha, what do you mean that's not a trick? Don't be ridiculous. I've been doing it for years.

The change clanged and scattered across the kitchen counter, a couple dollars' worth landing in the sink. The noise and tiny, manageable mess pleased me. That's right. I am in control here. The rest of my life might be in semi-shambles but goddamnit, I am stronger than these quarters. 

I didn't notice at first that they were brand new. I didn't notice until I was stuffing blankets into one of the temperamental, coin-operated contraptions upstairs and hoping that today I'd picked the functional one (our building's four washing machines take turns working correctly, which I think is very democratic of them). The quarters, which I'd set on top of the machine, winked at me happily. You got this, they seemed to say. Sure we're young and don't know much of the world yet, but we believe in you, Ellie! 

I may be spending too much time in my own company.

On the elevator ride back down, I ran my thumbs over the leftover quarters (the machines are also notorious change-eaters; we hope for the best but prepare for the worst) and considered how they felt different than others. Smoother on the faces, but rougher on the ridged sides. Not yet worn in, worn down, worn out. They felt like a testament to all things new and hopeful and still full of promise, and they cheered me immensely. These little bright silver symbols of capitalism and materialism and other things I'm conflicted about - I closed my fingers around them and felt at least ten percent lighter in my body, and my thoughts.

And that evening my boyfriend came home to the cleanest house he'd seen in a while. A victory in two bits is still a victory.