Wednesday, May 23, 2012
There's this weird round concrete thing outside the east doors of the Paragraph Factory. I don't know what it is but I know what it was — a place I used to sit and smoke and bump shoulders with a friend. And though I didn't know it then, it was a place of great peace: under the shade of a few trees, only a few steps but a mile away from the din of the factory and the workers inside.
In the middle of the day today I ducked out there and sat for a moment, sat and had an inner conversation and admitted what I couldn't say out loud:
I'm scared, dude. God — GAWD — I'm scared. I don't know if I can produce this newscast. Already there are moments where I'm sitting at my desk and I start to shake and it's taking everything I have to keep the bad-ass mask from slipping off my tired and frustrated face. And if it slips I won't be able to hide it, everyone will see I'm a failure, everyone will know I'm used up, the stroke took something from me that's gone for good. Something that was decent and vital and useful.
Dude, I really don't know what I'm going to do here. What if I get in the booth and everything goes to shit? What if I'm trying to keep time and I feel the pressure start to build up in my ears, in the back of my head? What happens if It happens again? Then what? I'll get wheeled out on a stretcher and everyone can point and stare and anyone they bring in will be able to do the gig without breaking a sweat. And I'll be nothing. Nothing. Worse than nothing.
I already feel that way, you know. It's not even been 20 days and already time clicks by smoothly and it's like I'm in a void; moments keeps marching forward and with each passing hour, each new day I'm a few more steps removed from the world I once knew, the world I craved. It's like walking; no matter how much I push my legs, the quad cane is slowing me down. All of life feels like it's moving on and I can't keep up, and one day soon — too soon — I'm going to look up and everything I care about will be far ahead in the distance, too far to hear me and happy for that fact.
I'm going to go back into the newsroom and my fingers won't keep up. I won't be able to type. I'll make some dumb-ass mistake in a script, type something that makes no sense and I'll make Joe or Leigh look stupid and that'll be that. And maybe that's for the best.
Dude, I'm scared. What am I going to do?
And even though I only imagined it, the calm reply: You'll be fine. Just three words in my head, but the churning in my brain stopped at once, and as I sat on the weird round concrete thing I felt the cool shade on my skin and felt gentle determination bump my shoulder. I know it sounds stupid, maybe even hopelessly hokey, but at that moment I believed.
I said goodbye to the shade and went back inside. The rest of the afternoon was copacetic. Even the deafening hum of the factory couldn't obliterate the words: You'll be fine.
And I was. It was.