Series by Student Ambassador Kate Brock
From the couch, I hear the whir of the electric kettle, the shrieks of children in the yard below, and the faint drumming of the radiator. I hear the bed squeaking in the apartment above me, over and over, again and again. I hear, from down the hall, both roommates’ alarms, and I hear them slap their devices with solid thuds. Off.
Grinding coffee beans, I turn the crank and force each shard through the wringer. There’s something therapeutic about smashing up burnt coffee cherries. The finer ground bits stain my fingers after smudging away dried remnants on the counter.
I want more than anything to sound proof this apartment.
If I were to fashion insulation for every niche leading to the outside and the inside worlds all adjacent, perpendicular, and parallel to my own, I’d be a master of carpentry. I’d be at peace. I’d be alone.
Maybe that’s what I need. Alone time. Being alone is vastly different than being lonely, a sensation I know all too well lately.
Self-care doesn’t come naturally in my former home. There people were on the go. Never resting. Always rising. Never ceasing. Always plodding along in the negative space that leached into the crevices of each room and bedspread and lamplight. Not negative energy, but something manic and tense. A haze or a pall coated the surfaces.
Getting away from all that is tricky. When separated from family and friends by thousands of miles and oceans of water, the internet is one’s best ally and worst enemy, because we can spend ages on our devices staring into the depths of people’s Facebook feeds and tweets,their emails and Instagram photos. Let me look at one more selfie so I see my sister is safe and at least feigning fun.
I scatter the coffee grounds in a filter and set the pour-over contraption on top of my mug and pour boiling water over them. I inhale.
I’ve been told that yoga would save me. My morning ritual of coffee is not enough. I need something to get me moving. Maybe that’s true. Maybe it isn’t.
I’ve been told that a facial would solve all my problems, that a nice bath would soothe me, that a fresh salad would nourish me. But, my roots say no. No, you do not need to spoil yourself. What have you done recently to deserve a break? People don’t get breaks today and they certainly shouldn’t be too kind to themselves.
That voice wrestles with another, smaller one. Be sweet. You’re going through a rough patch. You need to rest, read, and relax. Everything will be fine.
Maybe my self-care is sabotage. Maybe I lay in bed at night seeing nothing, reading nothing, hearing nothing. There are words on screens and pages before me, disseminated by vocalists and speech-makers alike. If letting things be isn’t working, then maybe pushing through is the next best step. Or, maybe I ought to try out the spa downstairs. A wax couldn’t hurt.