“You are crazy. What are you doing?” How could I possibly explain how important it was to get my feet in just the right place to hide those tiny lights? And whose business was it anyway? Shhh. I have things to do.
Billy had grown accustomed to my unconscious need to contort my body into a whirling dervish of non-activity. When he would catch me during one of the ten times a day I need to clasp my hands in a very exact manner; each finger fitting into the opposite hand’s matching web with the pinky and thumb floating free until they find each other in a satisfying and complete touch, he’d wryly ask, “Praying?”
"Did you say something, honey?”
Since my first memories, I have systemized my legs. It’s really quite easy. First I scrunch my toes then flex my calves followed by my hamstrings after which I twitch my quads only to be completed by my buttock crunch. Left. Right. In that order. Then I go back down the leg in opposed uniformity. Once I complete this, I’m fine. Really. I need to do this several times a day and I am adept at accomplishing this goal in meetings, eating dinner, driving or standing in line at McDonalds. No one’s the wiser.
Add these tics to the several other physical schemes I’m compelled to exhaustively achieve every day plus the complicated food habits I’ve developed over the years, it might be considered a disorder. But to me, I’m simply making sure everything is okay and working.
There is comfort for me in habit. The safety of repetition reassures me. When my habits are broken, well the hand basket is right there waiting to take me away. I’m not addressing addiction. No. Addiction is bad. I know that all too well. But Christ on a cracker, is there anything wrong with needing to slide my fingers through my toes and leaving them there for five minutes every day?
My routines have never been more important to me. They’ve started to scream out loud in the past year and I do absolutely nothing to abate them. Every single foundation I took for granted has been whisked away with a hateful broom and more is on its way. The only things I have left are my silent and warmly familiar gymnastics, and I will take them with me to Washington DC.
The difference between now and before Billy ran off to marry that fucking eskimo in the Northwest Territories is when I’m doing my hand origami, I am in fact, praying.