I say I’m getting back to normal, but I doubt anyone feels that way the DayAfter. The holiday’s past, the short vacation’s over, but who feels normal then? Besides that twinge of familiarity huffing up the hill with me, the easy oblivion that routine always brings, this does not feel normal at all. It feels almost as alien as the first day on the job. I’ve been off the merry-go-round for a few cycles and I do not feel dizzy anymore; and I do not miss the easy disorientation that passes for normal most days. This morning tastes fresh. Not even the espresso bitters its sweetness.

I might have a choice today. The break in the routine disrupted long-preconscious patterns, and I woke up on purpose today; with purpose. I felt, in the absence of the usual yoke, a real sense of destiny, of capability, of present possibility. I could not slip more deeply back into my pillow to dread this day coming. I could make it different, create a new normal, and not repeat the patterns that tired old normal seemed to insist upon.

I can’t go back again. I suspect that everyone feels this sense wash over them after the holiday’s over, as if that secular celebration just past had somehow left them and their world different, changed, unable to resuscitate the past. Maybe I’m just rested and refreshed. Maybe the day will have its same old way with me again, but, then again, maybe not. Maybe not.

So many people left town over this one that the city became human again. I could drive anywhere without encountering a single suffocating traffic snarl. I glimpsed a day or two of mastery there, of self-determination in action, and it might have changed me, flipped my anticipation. I might have lost that innate ability to replicate past responses, full of myself at last.

And won’t old grindstone be surprised, to find my nose absent from his gritty surface this morning? I might be standing a little taller, stooping less. I will take this morning on my own terms and make it my own, whomever I might have mortgaged this time to, and we’ll both be better for this experience. I am no minion today.

Holidays break the trance. They celebrate more than whatever their champions claim. They awaken something that routine hypnotizes. They disrupt the same-old same-old, sometimes leaving new-different new-different in their wake.

I’m through celebrating, that holiday’s over. It served its purpose well, a mere catalyst. I do not wish every day could be a holiday, only the barest few. I treasure my routine when it feels this shiny and new. The rusty one, I’ll leave behind on this sparkling DayAfter.

©2014 by David A. Schmaltz - all rights reserved

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