happy |ˈhapē| adjective ( happier , happiest ) 1 feeling or showing pleasure or contentment

She stops me while I am breathing in the first steps of morning. Aftertaste of coffee and cold on my tongue. Asks me, “Are you happy?”

I hate this word just like I’ve grown to hate the words Facebook and gluten-free and No offense, but

Even so, I do not hesitate to answer, “No, I’m not.”

It felt refreshing to be asked this question, especially when she waited to hear what I had to say.

Especially when she confessed that she wasn’t either.

Especially when we stood inside each other’s words of fear, hopelessness and loss.

I tell my students that it’s important to talk to strangers because once you share words, then the strange is gone. And invisible is seenAnd you start to recognize the similarities in each other.

I’ve recently located a drawer inside my body that has torn open. Warped and wooden and wild, this drawer is. Loaded up with anger.

I’ve run out of pillows to scream into. I don’t own any punching bags beyond this piece of paper I keep jabbing with my gut. I don’t know how to diffuse it.

I look up synonyms for happy because I just can’t commit to that word: jolly, untroubled, blithe, chirpy, on air, pleased, tickled [pink].

After there were no words left, she hugged me. I inhaled her scent of essential oils: jasmine, frankincense, myrrh mixing with my patchouli and caffeine. I wore her smell on my dry, dry skin all day.

I’d settle on feeling okay, these days. And sometimes I do. I may never get to happy or elated or even beatific. But as long as you stick around to hear my answer, I don’t mind you asking me if I am.

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