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Aug. 5th, 2013 | 01:45 am

I wake up in the night and I don't know where the bathroom is. There's a white price and a girl price and an it's-not-coal-mining price. If you do not see the sticker, that doesn't make it free. (If you didn't pay, you are probably the product). That is why law school costs so much, because living the life of 2.5 kids in your split-level and 2.5 cars in your garage and that nice gym membership where you can go and stay a little longer than you really should, just so you can take a fucking shower alone without a child who whines and wants, living that life is expensive. It should be. Pay cash.

I do not pay cash. I wake up in the night and I don't know where the bathroom is. City by city I locate places to pee, learning which hotels do not care who walks through their lobby with authority, tipping big at the coffee shop on the first few days so that later my espresso-in-a-to-go-cup-please can jump the line when I need it. I can pee in New York, in Cape Town, in Mumbai where ladies do not pee outside their homes (the pleats are hard to re-pleat alone in a stall). But I wake up in the night and I don't know where the bathroom is.

There is always a price. The boyfriend with the don't-ask-don't-tell policy doesn't ask and doesn't tell. The hot fun circus guy has a partner who notices where he sleeps, and so I sleep alone. I get my own room, my own space, my own time, and the price is being alone. Clients fly me to Dubai; on per diem, I buy a falafel at the food court and wonder if the Filipina behind the counter knows where her passport is. I drop dirhans in the tip cup. I pay for her indenture. I tell myself I am not indentured. I wake up in the night and I don't know where the bathroom is.

The price of competency is being in charge. Power costs guilt with every exercise. The wideness of the world is filled with silence, silence listening while I write, say, say, I am probably not OK. I wake up in the morning and for fourteen hours in heat and rain and dirt I thank my lucky stars for work, for work I love. Work I think I still love. I pare the dirt from under my nails, I wash the tuffskin from my hands, clean the glue from my eyelashes, fall into bed with exhaustion or someone new or both. I wake up in the night and I don't know where the bathroom is.


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Comments {5}

Vice Captain of the Universe

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from: sweeny_todd
date: Aug. 5th, 2013 06:00 am (UTC)

I don't know if you need or want them, but if you do, I am sending you hugs. This makes me a little sad.

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from: mzrowan
date: Aug. 5th, 2013 02:17 pm (UTC)

Beautifully written, as always. This one hits home for me personally, too. When I was a "road warrior", flying somewhere new every other week, it got so bad that there were a few times I woke up not only not knowing *where* I was, but not knowing *who* I was. I had to lie there for a few minutes and reconstruct my identity...remember what my name was, where I lived, what I did for a living, who I was dating...

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from: ecosopher
date: Aug. 5th, 2013 04:03 pm (UTC)

Yep. I guess we pay for our freedom in different ways... and some of us have more choices than others. Sometimes it doesn't seem like a choice but it is (even if neither of the choices are very appealing) and sometimes it is hard, even if you were happy with the choice to begin with.

I'm not in the same place, but I know about waking up and not really knowing who I am -- or why I need to be awake at all.


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from: drwex
date: Aug. 6th, 2013 06:24 pm (UTC)

I love pieces that circle on themselves (as you might have noticed). The piece feels unfinished, though, as if it's a sketch-in progress. I think it's good for a piece of writing to leave the reader wanting more (one reason I hate thousand-page horse-choker novels) but this feels like something that needs to be developed, which I hope you'll do.

Meanwhile it has reminded me of a trustory, which I will now go tell.

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Andrea Blythe

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from: blythe025
date: Aug. 21st, 2013 04:18 pm (UTC)

Another beautiful post. I'm always amazing how you can snapshot an experience in such a short space. Wonderful.

On a side note, my favorite songwriter Ani DiFranco has a song (called "Dialate") about going from hotel to hotel and coincidentally has the same line, "I wake up in the night and I don't know where the bathroom is." I think you've used the repeated phrase to excellent effect here, bringing to the front the sense of being lost, both because of a new location as well as emotionally.

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