Sundays feel like a special breed of day, a lazy and pampering kind of day. Last weekend I turned off my phone for all of Sunday. It was nice, but also strange, and I felt a little at a loss, and took a very long nap. When I woke up it was dark. I don't think I left my bed very much.
I went to the orientation for New York Cares this afternoon. It was in the basement of a church with horrible fluorescent lighting, the kind that exists in the worst waiting rooms, institutions, that spill of sickness and exhaustion. I felt like I was back in high school, middle school, in a cafeteria with cheap gray plastic chairs and a teacher who wouldn't stop explaining the most basic things. I shouldn't have judged it so harshly, I suppose. It was a volunteer organization and all around me were people who wanted to do good. For a few moments I didn't know why I was there at all. Maybe my motivations weren't as pure. The people who sat there weren't like me, I thought. They nodded attentively and asked questions. I looked at my phone and was relieved when I left.
A few years ago I worked at a public elementary school on the Lower East Side as a work study job. The teachers always commented on my outfits and most of the kids were fond of me. I read to them or talked to them as they worked on art assignments and on Fridays sometimes I taught cooking class. Ironic, as I barely knew how to cook myself. It was a rewarding experience, as people would say. But I remember there were a few kids, especially one blond haired, sharp eyed boy who would make racist comments to me (they were in the first grade. That young!). I didn't know how to talk to him, what to say. One of the kids made me a card for Valentine's Day, or maybe some other holiday. It was adorable and I took it home and tucked it in a keepsakes box. I liked to think that I was making at least a little bit of a difference, though sometimes in the after school program I simply felt out of place. The leaders of each group of the after school program were often local high school students, familiar with each other, while I was a stranger to it all.
When I volunteer now it'll be different, I suppose. Go out of your comfort zone, the orientation speaker said. Work with kids and the elderly and do the unexpected. Mostly I wonder if it'll make me happy or frustrated or sad. On the train home I suddenly had the idea for a short story--a horror story, torture porn, maybe, even. I typed it in the Notes app on my iPhone. The dark side I'm so equally drawn to but sometimes fail to explore, the one I'll never know. At home, for the story, I researched suicide methods and guns and discovered a shooting range in NYC. Something that now, I really want to do.