when it’s gray outside and you don’t have a job, or even if it’s only partly gray and half sunny, there comes a nagging ache, somewhere in your upper body. The traffic outside your dated apartment complex: people driving to their jobs, driving to stores, parks and restaurants. People with lists of things to do. Your list is like a broken bowl: unreadable shards that will never hold water again.
Unemployment brings renunciation. “I will not go outside today” becomes a mantra of protection. Defense. You sign up for free weeks at gyms but don’t always go back; everyone at the gym has a job, you can tell by their fancy sneakers. You clean your apartment in the morning but by evening it’s trashed again; another mystery of living poor. Five days left until you get next month’s food stamps and your cupboards are bare. Is it any wonder your head aches?
It’s not always as bad as that, not every Monday’s such a low note. It’s hard having no health insurance, no savings and no red wine, but the bravest part of you occasionally climbs out for a look around. Sometimes you’ll organize your closet and find old dresses to consign, sometimes you’ll put on your cowboy boots and take a walk around the block. Other times you’ll stare into space and try to write an interesting travel piece on a trip you took three years ago but instead all that comes out is a few paragraphs in the second-person, your dried-out thoughts on living unemployed.