Laney was scanning old files, shifting her weight from one black high-heeled foot to another. There were hundreds of these files that had to be scanned;she didn’t know what the papers meant, she had a feeling it was busy work to keep her coming back. Her mind was bored and therefore it was dulling down to nothing. Her thoughts wandered to an imaginary Laney living in a large-but-not-too-large split level: top/main floor dripping with hardwoods and expansive walls that are covered in Indian tapestries and black and white photography. The interior design of a Jhumpa Lahiri short story. Here she would host simple, peaceful teas for her mom friends (she probably wouldn’t serve tea, though. Lattes were more her speed). While their children yelled and screamed and ran outside or down in the new-shag carpeted basement (its walls would be covered with detailed, whimsical murals that she had painted one snowy weekend), the moms would drink coffee and teach one another new yoga positions and get up in turns to check on the children.
Laney of course realized she needed a bigger home to host such fêtes inside of; her old home would do, the one that they had given up in foreclosure, the one that wouldn’t budge on the market. Their townhome was lovely and charming and quaint but it didn’t have a yoga room. Therefore she had to keep her new job that required her to scan papers dating back to the 1970’s in rhythm with her fantasies. Laney was the queen of the tangent imaginary life. She had to keep it up or else she’d scream with the weight of it all.
The papers had to be scanned if she wanted the home again with the white linen walls. The papers had to be scanned if she wanted to hop into Sephora any old time for any old red lipstick. The papers had to be scanned if she wanted to let the worry wash away, down the drain as she showered before the sun rose. She must be a flower that bloomed before the dawn. She must be cheerful and blooming and put her creative energy on hold until after those papers were scanned. Laney realized that the coo of the mother dove outside of her bathroom window was reserved for her alone in the mornings, and she was quite lucky she even heard it. They usually cooed in the day, when everyone was gone, while Laney was scanning the 2002 fiscal year end report or what have you.
She had been home a year. A year of lazy summer afternoons and bowls of Cheerios mornings when school started in the Fall. She was there, at the kitchen table when her children’s day was done. She was ready with some grapes and animal crackers and a calm ear. She had finally learned to turn off the mad creative woman who paced inside her skull by the time they got off the school bus. She had learned switch her motor from ongogogogogogogogo to idle. Now she was learning another skill. How to scan and walk and remember what it felt like to work in an office all day. It had only been a year but in that year she had gained and lost twenty pounds and discovered the quiet beauty of yoga and the value of hard work that one enjoys and is proud of. The reason she gave all that up is no mystery. She didn’t particularly enjoy the scanning. The reason was money. The money earned scanning old financial statements would help them out of the dark places that they tended to fall into once work dwindled down to roasted coals in the winter. It would keep them out of trouble for a while. Laney would try to be content with her lot, as it wasn’t a bad lot really. Less time to do yoga, more food on the table. Priorities (schmiorities).