It’s fun when an artist shocks you with their prescience. I believe it was you that Henry David Thoreau foresaw when he said that “the mass of men live lives of quiet desperation.” I used to tell myself that I would never live a life of quiet desperation; I would scream my desperation for everyone to hear. But you’ve tamed me. When I’m with you my pupils dilate, my breath falls into calm repetition and my spirit bleeds.
There is not one thing about you that I like. Your steel drawers are joyless, your calendar taunts me and your walls are shabby. Could there be a lazier expression of light than the harsh glow from that buzzing fluorescent tube you keep encased in a plastic grate? I’m Irish for crying out loud. My skin reflects light poorly enough under soft conditions, beneath you I look like a milk-filled jellyfish.
The decorum that my co-workers have hung about your entrance is misguided and cruel. That picture of San Antonio Spurs guard Manu Ginobli doesn’t look anything like me. While I do have dark hair, dark eyebrows and perennial two day stubble, I had hoped that this made me look more like Matthew Fox from Lost than a balding Argentinean. And I’m sure it was good fun for them to pin my quote from last week’s happy hour on your outside wall, but when I said that “the decade since I graduated college has been nothing but bad news and depressing life lessons,” it was uttered in a state of honest sadness, it was not meant to be ironic, hyperbolic or funny in any way.
There are a couple of small comforts that have made short clips of my time with you at least tolerable. I enjoy reading my page-a-day Onion desk calendar, although it was such a crutch against your dogged grind that I burned through the full year’s worth of entries in early March. I’m thankful that a cleaning crew comes by dark of night to empty my rubber trash can and sweep up all the crumbs and hairs that accumulate in my keyboard, although I’m certain that they’re stealing my mints.
If I hate you so much, why do I spend the waking hours of my prime locked in this terrible relationship? Nobody is forcing me to return to you everyday, it’s become a conditioned response to waking up. What if I stopped going? What if I up and left? I could become a Park Ranger and spend my time in the outdoors. Surely I’m qualified to be a Park Ranger, with minimal training I could become quite skilled at telling people to ask their dogs to quiet down. Or I could double-down and dig my way out. If I spent my nights and weekends with you they’d move me into that office with the blinds and the fake plant. I bet I could be happy in that office, gazing upon the landscape print that hangs above my desk and doesn’t offend anyone. From there I could look out at you through my glass wall. I could take your new prisoner out to lunch and tell them everything. I’d tell them about how you are, and I’d tell them about what you do.