The refrigerator hummed louder than it should have in the silent, lukewarm air of the apartment like a cat purring for its breakfast. It was an odd feeling, waking up to its rumbling and nothing more, an absence of sound so intense it made me do a double take before I finally rose from the rumpled bed to face the day. There was no actual cat in the apartment, though there had been less than two weeks earlier, but it was gone and I was left behind with so many pots that used to hold plants. The air must have been somewhat cold outside because the glass on the sliding doors was slightly fogged, as if God had breathed on it for a moment.
I ambled out into the living room and was firmly ensconced in my computer chair before I realized what day it was, and I sighed under my breath. It was my first Christmas alone, and I knew I wouldn’t see anyone at all that day, at least not for any kind of celebration. The apartment wasn’t decorated at all, either, unless you counted the red coffeemaker, which I didn’t. I turned on the television set as background noise while I rifled through my emails, most of which were school related, and wondered what had happened to my life. Suddenly it seemed like time to make a statement.
In the bathroom cabinet I found my razor container, which included the razor with various interchangeable blades, oil to clean it, and a tiny brush to sweep off the hairs after use. I had purchased the set when none of the barbers in Knoxville felt comfortable cutting my hair, but I hadn’t used it in a couple of months, so my hair was shaggy like wool and a bit out of control, the perfect microcosm for my life at that exact moment. On a sudden whim I took the set down from its place on the shelf and carried it with me into the living room, the shadows following me all the way like phantom children. Five minutes later the carpet was littered with dead hair, sloughed off in despair, disappointment, and frustration, and my newly shaved head was inhaling the new day. Merry Christmas to me. It became lucky then that I wasn’t going outside.
The phone wasn’t going to ring because I was estranged from both my mother and my wife, ironic since one estrangement was because of the other person, but I wasn’t dwelling on that right then. Instead I got up and went through my videotape collection until I found my homemade copies of Friends episodes that spanned ten tapes. I put in the first one, dropped onto the couch, and quickly got lost in the world of Central Perk. For the next eight hours. Every hour or so I wandered into the kitchen where I had milk and cookies, as if I had been waiting for Santa overnight, but I ate and drank it all instead of saving it for the jolly elf, and it made my stomach sick by afternoon, another excuse to sit there like a vegetable.
I tucked my legs up underneath me on the loveseat, as uncertain about my future as I ever had been, but with a new lease on life compliments of my new haircut. It was only when I went back into the bathroom and looked in the mirror that I noticed I had left several patches of hair intact. And I thought, “it figures,” but I left them that way because they said more about my state of mind than any words ever could. I promised myself in the morning I would pick up some eggnog to go with my cookies. Anything would beat milk.