Phantom Pain

I hate when you reach for something that has always been there and then it’s not.

Like a tissue box that had been emptied and thrown away but not replaced
Or when you run your fingers through your hair after you cut it.
Noticing your wrapper had landed on the floor and realizing that the trash can that was always in one place but has been moved since you were there last.
Going for another bite of dessert only to remember you had already finished it.

I especially hate it when you know something is gone, and it’s been gone for a long time, but part of you still half expects to see it.

Like the small pink bike that lived in the hallway of your apartment for the first three months you lived there.
The deli on the corner that is now being turned into an apartment complex.
That shirt you had been looking for in the closet that you realize you had donated to good will years ago.
Or your childhood bed in the room that used to be yours.

The other day I was getting ready to take a shower and I started to take off my jewelry, like I do every time I take a shower. My necklace, the bracelet from my left wrist, the two hair elastics from my right.

Then I found my fingers fumbling around my ring finger, as if going to remove a ring.

I paused in shock at my own actions. It felt like habit, very natural and ritualistic.

I haven’t worn rings in years.

In high school, I was always wearing at least two rings, more often four, and for some time eight. Yes, I realize now that was a little out of control, but I liked rings and didn’t see a need to choose between them if they all fit on different fingers.  In college I realized the absurdity of wearing eight rings at once and it eventually diminished to two.

Still, it has been at least two years – probably longer – since I’ve worn any rings at all.

Yet for some reason, I reached for something that wasn’t there.

This feeling can jolt you out of every day routines; throw you off for a moment.

Sometimes it can make you smile, remembering things of the past.

It can also be an empty feeling.  Nostalgia can hit you like a tidal wave when you least expect it.

~ by Valerie Anne on 01/18/2011.

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