Second Packet

But I don't have a tail. Or a job. I have a silly checkered hat and two 500g packets of potato chips. My termination present from work.

My parents tell me to re-think returning to work. I don't re-think it, and two weeks later I’m standing at the foot of the store's stairwell and shouting that I am clearly "the only one 'working' here," and that I have "had it with you people." Then I try to throw a vacuum cleaner up half a flight of stairs, and, when I fail and the hose of the vacuum gets jammed in between the second and third steps, I drop it and storm out of the store. I return with the required 'resignation notice' written in cursive on a paper hand-towel from the ladies' restroom, sealing my destiny with a piece of Christmas tape, from a roll I found in my coat pocket. It is June, 2006. I am free, and I don't know what to do. So I decide to pack it in and go home. To my folks.

I feel like I'm running away from my life, and if I had a tail it would be hitting my knees by now.

But I don't have a tail. Or a job. What I do have is a checkered hat and two 500g packets of potato chips. My termination present from work. I finally understand that saying about salt and wounds.

That night I am not in the mood to pack. But I start anyway.
I pack like I don't understand what packing actually is, trying to fit keyboards, books, two cups and saucers and a teapot into my suitcase. My parents call. Have I packed any clothes? I look around my bedroom vaguely. No. No I haven't. When I answer the phone, I am sitting on my bed, unsuccessfully trying to jam my 20" iMac into the bottom of the suitcase. I'll make it fit.

At this point, I must confess that I am a little bit drunk. When I stumbled in through the door that evening, I had already downed one beer alone at the Crown Casino, and eaten half of one of the packets of potato chips. I do not know exactly where the second packet of chips is, but I believe I left it, unopened, somewhere in the casino. I am in the mood for forgetting.

The television is on. It's nice to have another voice in the house, even if it is on TV. Falling back into a comforting routine, I change into my pajamas.

I go to the fridge and get out a bottle of red. Cabernet Sauvignon, some French brand, I don't care to muse over the title. The cool tiles of the kitchen floor feel great on my bare feet. I sit the wine bottle on the kitchen counter and jam the corkscrew into the top. Then I remove the corkscrew, remove the now-completely-mangled metal coating of the bottle top, and try again. Idiot, I breathe, annoyed at my own ignorance. After much grunting and twisting, I manage to extract half the cork. The other half falls back down into the bottle. A drunk, drastic and fumbled attempt to save it with a kitchen skewer ends with a trip to the bathroom, with the bottle, to get some tweezers to extract the now-bottled skewer. Success. Huge mess. A drunken attempt to control a wayward kitchen skewer with a pair of tweezers, results in wine flicked crazily all over my bathroom counter, and a t-shirt that I can now only wear for painting and cleaning. I sit up on the counter and swig from the bottle, the cork still inside, as I clumsily reach around into the cubicle partition and rip off a wad of toilet paper to mop up the wine. The house phone rings.

I jump up and run to the kitchen, wine bottle in one hand, phone now in the other. "Good evening ma'am..." I hang up. I am an asshole.

My parents call my mobile. I, and the bottle of wine, saunter into the bedroom and crouch inside the open suitcase, on top of all the things packed inside. "YES HELLO!" I boom. "Well, hello to you!" says my Mother. "So, what's happening now?" "I'm finished packing", I say. We discuss travel arrangements. They will be in the city tomorrow. I am to meet them at the Vic Hotel with my suitcase. "Travel light", they say. I am nowhere near finished packing. I go to the kitchen, bottle in hand, and re-cork the wine. I stink of grapes, cork, and radioactivity. I need a shower.

Because it is my house, and I live alone, and all the doors are securely locked and the shades are drawn, I strip off from the bedroom to the bathroom, leaving a trail of clothes in my wake. Drunkenly I pull a towel and bathmat out of the under-sink cupboard, and arrange them on the floor next to the shower bath. Sleepy, and naked, I get in the shower and start the taps.

Water is pouring down from the shower rose. My weird habit of looking directly into the streams of water, is a cathartic end to what I term to be a fairly shitty day. I revise my current situation with my eyes closed and the shower raining down on my skin.
So far today, I've lost my job, I've admitted that the city has defeated me, and I'm running back home to live like a recluse until I figure out what to do. I have no plans.


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