symptoms.

IMG_2318The symptoms of stress are funny.

A couple days ago Amanda and I sat in a coffee shop working on the last round of edits for a book we started writing three years ago. It’s come a long way since then—a million miles—and I’m as proud of it as anything I’ve written by myself. Maybe even prouder, because writing with someone else means having to listen to someone else, and this isn’t always the easiest thing.

The entire time we were together, that entire morning and well into the evening, my eye twitched.

Stress, she said. And then: I just noticed you’re drinking coffee. Are you drinking coffee again?

I feel like I want to, I say. But I don’t even like it anymore. 

She nods emphatically. I feel the exact same way.

The symptoms of stress. A persistent eye twitch. An ulcer. A loss of hair. Heart palpitations. An inability to write. The words catch somewhere in the back of your throat and you have to choke them up. It hurts. They come out in the wrong order. We write rumbled instead of rumpled. We forget words. We forget letters. We forget punctuation. We over punctuate. We laugh and make fun of ourselves and we go back and fix stupid, silly mistakes.

I need a break, one of us says. But we’re almost done, and so we keep at it until the words blur on the screen and we both feel a little bit drunk on sentences.

Later, finished, I go home to an empty apartment. I start a book I bought yesterday. I hold the pages up to my nose and breathe in the smell of ink. I remind myself, This is what it’s for.

This is the end result. And my eye still twitches but I barely even notice.

photograph taken with a Canon 60D in Santa Monica, California.

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