52 Weeks 44: Collaborator Eilean Dhu

The Eilean Dhu is a wee heavy, because the name really doesn’t tell you that.

I’ve been temping for the past few days at a warehouse, doing work that nobody could find worthy of their time or effort-except the desperate. 

What I’ve noticed about the desperate is that they repeat; they do not have new stories, they do not dream. They are stuck inside a weird bubble of need which has at its center ‘the missing’. That is, a quality that they do not have (for whatever reason) and fervently need in order to keep their lives working on an acceptable axis. To be denied this quality means that everything circles around the orbit of this emptiness, everything comes back to what you lack and what could have been hopes get sucked into the hole instead. 

It is a hard thing, being amongst their number. I see the difference between not bothering to hope and understanding that your hope doesn’t matter.  

I’ve also gotten a taste, an admittedly small one, of what it is like for men and women who work the floors every day, living, as Wayne Kramer said, “By the sweat of their brow.” 

You come home aching in new ways. Cuts on your skin until it hardens from the work. Physically drained from the effort of the labor, you arrive home to mental voices that now demand attention, should you have any unanswered questions about your life and what it all means. The desire to be left alone, the need to just let the pain in your shoulders leech into the couch, is gargantuan. And those unanswered questions, should you have any? It’s your Jacob Marley visiting, chains rattling, howling your name with assurances of three spirits that will haunt you.

After awhile you just feel wasted all the time. 

If the payment for the work was proper, I think things would be different. Doing grindage work feels different when you’re getting paid enough to take your girl out for a nice weekend on the coast from time to time, treat the kids to a nice birthday at the water park, buy a round for your friends every so often. When you’re fretting about rent, or if the kids will have enough to eat, or how you’ll manage without the car for two months, the empty space in the bubble just gets bigger, the gravity of it stronger, impossible to ignore. Being civil to strangers becomes more difficult, and the attempt to be present in your life instead of staring out into the middle distance wondering when things will change, this becomes damn near impossible.

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