(This is what it feels like to be me for a day.) *written to this song, in my DQ outfit.
While Working Night Shift at Dairy Queen.
Sticky. Covered in sprays and sprays of ice cream up and down the arms and all over the apron. Streaks of chocolate on forearms, red dye staining across fingers like my nails bled. Sweaty in the black uniform, hoping the deodorant holds out. Bruised in the oddest places; upper hip, mid calf. Sneakers catching on the floor, co-worker playfully poking me in the side, me ignoring how badly I want to sit down. Hands cold. Head hot. The strain in my muscles carrying heavy loads from the back to the front, then swelling with pride when coworkers cheer and call me a beast. Sometimes straight up sleepy, and sometimes frustrated by rude or difficult people–sometimes wanting to snap at someone but always biting my tongue at the last minute.
Usually, I’m happy, surrounded by coworkers who seem to all appreciate me so much. Inside jokes that warm me, the laughing fits where I’m almost in tears, the banter, the smirks traded between us all as cars roll by the drive-thru window forever. That smile or supportive word from someone which gives me that next shot of energy to keep going. Ears overwhelmed by machines whirling and voices echoing and car engines rumbling. Keep standing. Keep smiling. Trying not to make it harder for anyone else by becoming frustrated. Trying to diffuse tension in the atmosphere when the night becomes overwhelming. 20 minutes feeling like 60. The heart thumping when I have to learn something new. Listening to everyone complain to me about each other. Trying so hard to empathize with them all. Wanting to hug them all because they’re all trying so hard in their own ways.
How amazing it is to hear: “We gucci, homie?!” “I want you on all my shifts!” “I missed you, Jamie.” “My shifts with you are so much better!” “Who else would I work with if you weren’t here.” “You’re an amazing person, Jamie.” Like wow. ❤
Fingertips counting dollar bills, fumbling with coins, slamming the window too hard. Hearing my customer service voice that somehow flows like honey, even when things are at its most chaotic. The surge of relief in my chest when backup arrives and I can breathe again. Throat so dry from being stuck in the drive-thru for two hours: “what size?” “need a lid on that?” “anything else?” “That’ll be four-forty four.”; a couple gulps of water in the back before the next wave hits. The happiness of the next paycheck in my pocket.
Being drop-dead tired after seven-day work weeks or the days with surprise double shifts because the homie is sick and can’t come in; crying outside by myself from being so tired between those shifts. The boyfriend’s phone call comforting me as I crouch on an empty ice cream crate before returning for another six hours. The cold air of the freezer doors. The crunch of paper bags in my arms. The happiness when co-workers become more like friends you’re paid to hang out with. And the soaring happiness when a select few become more like family than friends. Knowing you have each other’s backs in and out of work. ❤ That’s honestly the best. ❤
When I’m At Home.
Tired. Yet wired after usual night shifts, left sitting up till early hours of the morning trying to unwind enough to sleep. The computer’s glow tiring my eyes. The happiness of finding a goodnight message from my boyfriend every single night while kicking off my shoes. Music pounding in my eardrums. Scrubbing ice cream off my arms and face. Trudging around the yard looking for scorpions, toeing the dirt, the scent of poison. Getting lost in the music for an hour and a half while pacing back and forth under the moon–time feels frozen. Processing emotions of the day, imagining novel scenes, breathing sweet fresh air, self-therapy.
Soft bed covers. The glow of Netflix across the room keeping monsters away. The shock of it being 2 AM. Snuggling something soft in my arms and getting hit by how much I miss him. Mostly drifting off to happy fantasies of snuggles and warm hugs, on rarer times feeling my heart shatter when I almost remember the scent of his hair. Feeling the tears fall, feeling those 2000 miles between us, devastated to be so far away. Flipping the pillow over to the dry side right before sleep hits me like a truck.
Waking up mid-morning groggy and grumpy. The happiness of his good morning waiting for me, making me smile and roll over, the first thing I see every morning. A keyboard at my fingertips. Tip tap. Tip tap. Tip tap. Music in my ears. Smiling at the funny things he and I message each other throughout the day. Sadly watching the clock slowly countdown my return to work for another evening. Searching my part of the fridge for food. Getting to Skype for a couple of hours. The joy in my chest when I see his smile, the sweetness from hearing his voice in my ear again. Laughing and laughing, talking and talking. Knowing love and how it pains and how it means more than anything. Sometimes sadly lying on my bed being quiet together, because we’re just so tired. The relief when he prays with me to have a good shift. Happiness. Feeling loved. ❤
Then leaving for work again, ready to do it all over again. Soon to be sticky again.