Last week I fell into happiness. And the sun did not explode. And, as far as I can tell, the forecast is not calling for The Apocalypse.
In an unexpected turn of events, my life pulled out of the negative zone of disaster and I found myself doing things I never thought possible. Like singing out loud while alone in my room — to the Beatles’ album Revolver. I passed one, two, three little children on the street, and it was not until a half a block later that I realized I had not experienced even the slightest impulse to kick one of them. Like an accident victim removing the Ace bandage from her face, I carefully touched my cheeks and lips with my fingertips — not even a trace of an unconscious scowl. Throughout the week I struggled to keep up volleys of snide retorts. Basic sarcasm seemed just beyond reach.
What if happiness actually has some sort of chemical reaction in my body that inhibits the enzyme secreting skepticism, bitterness and irreverence into my bloodstream? What if I am totally unfunny when I’m happy? Oh my god, I’m not nearly attractive enough to not be funny. And it’s not like I’ve got an econ degree to fall back on professionally. I’m like Spidey when his personal life rendered his superpowers all limp-dicked. If all of this is true, then why has my body not rejected this unexpected happiness transplant? “Attack the happiness,” my ego screams. But nothing happens. The happiness remains.
What is going on? It’s only the very beginning of March, far too early and cold for such a classic case of happiness to be caused by a premature onset of springtime insanity. A dull ache radiates down my left arm. My throat feels itchy, and I am beginning to have some trouble breathing.
Oh no. I have a heart. [cue: Jana’s mother passing out.]
Or, more precisely: The tiniest pale green tendril of emotion has cracked through the shriveled, dry shell that protects my itty nubbin of a heart-like-organ and begun to cautiously unfurl itself.
Before people (my family) start freaking out — throwing hot coffee in the eyes of the person next to you, vomiting uncontrollably til the sting of stomach acid numbs your esophagus — it is not what you’re thinking. So stop thinking it.
I am not “puppies-and-rainbows-and-magic-happy.” (Julia, my wifey, I swear I’m not.) I know that puppies grow into drooling, patchy-coated, cancer-ridden dogs that leave you holding nothing more than a plastic baggie full of warm poop. I am also aware that rainbows are actually only an optical phenomenon caused by the refraction of the sun’s rays by the rain. And that magic is nothing more than trickery with props.
That being said, have you seen the dazzling clear blue sky that has made a rare appearance for the past few days over the fair Elm City? Yup, that’s the work of my happiness. Pretty good job, right?
Whatever the sources of and subsequent expressive outlets for my happiness may be, don’t even bother entertaining the emotion of envy. It is an unfortunate, universal certainty that as soon as some area of your life breaks even in the realm of “Not Completely Dysfunctional,” all the rest of it falls to shit immediately, if not sooner.
This might explain why I continue to be plagued with intense insomnia that — after two weeks of watching the sky get light — has left me susceptible to a wicked case of pre-spring break walking pneumonia. I am trying to convince myself that this charming ailment is the reason why I haven’t seen the inside of a shower for going on three days now. You don’t have to tell me; I know how disgusting that is. Pneumonia makes you cough, not lose your eyesight. I too can see the dandruff.
Regrettably, I do not think I can blame the insomnia or the illness for the gigantic zit that has come to colonize the lower left side of my chin. I may not shower, but I do wash my face. So why? Why, oh why, does this growth have an eye that stares me down every time I try to take its measurements in the bathroom mirror?
And you know that if a little blemish on the face and fluid in the lungs are the major hitches in my life, then surely some sort of peripheral crisis must be erupting in the lives of those I love. Just as I begin to break even with my personal happiness, all the other members of the Sikdar Circus are hit with a shitstorm of tough times.
My grandmother is dying (and after my last column, I will not inflict any more bittersweet tales of bereavement on you); both my brothers are struggling along varied axes of public, private, emotional and/or professional problems; and, lastly, my rock star of a sister and her [insert insult here] boyfriend of three years are taking a break — thus rupturing any remnants of illusions I had about the feasibility of long-term love and commitment. (Yes, this means she may be single soon. No, Jake Saper, she’s not interested.)
This just goes to show you that all those heart-achingly simple folk who give you profoundly uninspired advice like “Nobody’s life is perfect” or “You can’t have it all” … well, those assholes are actually right.
And I’m okay with that. I have no interest in having it all. That would be excessively uninteresting. All I’m hoping is that the humor and the happiness need not be mutually exclusive.
Jana Sikdar will be spending spring break sans stress on an organic farm in Belize.