She sits in a motel room by herself. Eating. A massive Chipotle burrito. Chicken, no beans, two scoops of brown rice. Extra cheese. Extra sour cream. No salsa. Naked. Glued to the television.
She spends a couple weekends a month in hotel rooms. She has a bag packed with all the essentials, ready to travel once a few interchangeable pieces of clothing are tossed in. A pair of shoes. Something to sleep in. An umbrella a colleague suggested she always pack.
She has the television tuned to CNN, or to that show where they sell stuff out of storage lockers. Like a game show, with hidden prizes buried in someone else’s memories. She has peeled off clothing that painfully binds, that balls up, that rolls up, that tucks under; clothing that pinches, smothers, overheats.
Shorn, she sits on the big bed, a double full-length mirror next to it. She looks over at herself, holding the burrito up for another bite. It’s been 12 hours since she’s had a meal. Her meals often come at night. She is morbidly obese. Her eyes glide over a body in the mirror that she hates, that has never been hers. Her legs are swollen, and her ankles are indistinguishable from her calves. They are monstrous. They hurt. Her feet hurt. She hurts.
The local pizza joint commercial interrupts the storage locker action, and she is yanked out of herself for a moment. She doesn’t watch television at home. She disgustedly disconnected her cable more than a decade ago. As a grad student. She was addicted to it. She and a fellow grad student—once a close friend–used to joke about how bad the jonesing had gotten for both of them. (What she didn’t tell her friend was that it was so bad for her, this need for a television world, that if she accidentally turned it off with some button on the remote, her body and mind actually panicked for a second. It was like the whole world just stopped. She’d scramble for the remote, push the on button—HARD–and breathe again when the noise started.)
She lost touch with the friend. Her fault, as always. She also disconnected her cable, for good. Almost like she was getting ready for what was to come.
It was going to be a waking dream. She would relocate her life to a place where things moved a little slower, where people weren’t the center of everything, where she might find some real solitude, some quiet. Where she didn’t have to constantly pretend, always perform to exist. She could just dig up her life and replant in new soil. So easy.
The new place would look like the old one, only smaller on the inside and much bigger on the outside. It would be a miniature version of the house she had just staged to sell, a house that never felt like home. Only this new one had acres of trees around it, so many trees. In her mind, it was all planned: she would move away for a few years, learn how to make a life, how to live a life, and write. She would try to make herself into a better human. And then she would come home, and they would all love her.
She shoves the last of the burrito into an already full mouth, turns off the noise and the lights, and lays awake, dreaming.