The Doughnut Dilemma or 'How I Learnt To Leave The House and Save a Sugary Snack From Getting Rained On
When going through a difficult time, brain wise, things that previously seemed easy suddenly seem unthinkable. Walking feels like wading through butter, for example. I recently had one of these 'difficult times' and even though no zombie apocalypse was apparent, and no rivers of blood were forming in the streets, and cake had not been outlawed, I suddenly found myself unable to leave the house without another person. Why? Not sure. The thought of it made me unbearably anxious. So I holed myself up in the house and waited for people to be available to escort me to the supermarket. It seemed so pathetic to me. This carried on for a week, and then it marched straight on into a second week, without any thought at all for the inconvenience it was causing. I laughed when I remembered that I had started a travel blog at some previous point in my life. Because how could I travel when just opening the front door to put the recycling out was now beyond contemplation?
And so, suddenly it was Tuesday of that second week, and it was raining on and off. I was holed up on the sofa, where I had created a refuge for myself among 27 cushions, one of which is shaped like a poo. Even that didn't cheer me up (a sign that things really had gone south). I hadn't moved from that sofa for oh, about 18 hours I'd say. I checked my phone. My friend Sig had just left me a message telling me that he had, within the last 10 minutes, been round to see if I was okay, but had had no answer at the door. The second part of the message informed me that he had brought me doughnuts, and one of them had pink icing on it. And that in the absence of any door-answering that might have occurred, he had left said doughnuts outside for me and I should retrieve and enjoy them at my convenience. I'm paraphrasing, but you get the idea.
I found it strange to read that he had been at the door, because our doorbell sounds like a gameshow buzzer, in other words, it demands to be heard. And I had been jumping out of my skin and running for cover underneath the dining room table every time it had rung for the last fortnight. Actually, to be honest, I hadn't answered the front door at all since I got made to watch Luther on Netflix last winter and realised that in some parallel universes, answering the front door equals getting stabbed in the stomach by a man in a clown mask. So the truth is that Sig would have been left out there in the rain whether I had heard the doorbell or not. But I hadn't heard it. Which put the whereabouts of my doughnuts into serious question, and I really wanted those doughnuts. I wanted to see my friend too, but that ship had evidently sailed, and anyway, I hadn't had a wash or got dressed to any standard that would be acceptable in company. The doughnuts, in the 30 seconds since I had read the message, had become my goal for the afternoon, and I had to solve this mystery. The doorbell had not rung so did it then follow that the doughnuts were not outside my house at all? There was only one way to find out, and I had been resolutely ignoring that for longer than a completely sane person ought to. Just the thought of opening the door made my heart beat faster. But it was raining really quite hard now, and I hadn't had lunch. To rescue the (possibly mythical) doughnuts was fast morphing into my most important goal since last Wednesday, when I had successfully made my own breakfast and felt like I had won an Olympic silver medal. Well, this would be my gold.
Don't get me wrong, I felt bad that Sig had tried to come and check on me and hadn't had any luck. I messaged him to convey this sentiment once the whole adventure was over. It sounds stupid, but I didn't want to let him down by failing to find the nice thing he had brought for me. So I fixed my whole attention on the front door, which is accessible in my house by walking downstairs and into the hallway. On the other side of the door is the street. We have no front garden. Open the door at the wrong moment, and you risk colliding with a dog walker. I listened for sounds of life, but all I heard was the pounding of rain on the pavement. Carefully, I reached out, turned the door knob so that the latch clicked, and inched the door open. I poked my head out into the street. No doughnuts. Disappointment and panic began to well up. But no! I must not give up now. I turned my head to the left, and then to the right. And there, no more than 10 feet away from me, neatly wrapped in cellophane and sitting outside my neighbours' front door, was a doughnut shaped blob. 10 feet away! It felt like a marathon to me. Not so much physically, because I have legs and I know how to use them, and I am able to use them. I am very lucky in that sense. But brain-ally speaking, this was more than I had handled on my own for a while now.
Still, they were my doughnuts! And I was hungry. And I didn't want my neighbour to suddenly come home and think they were for her. That would be a disaster! I went back in the house and gave myself a pep talk as I pulled on my boots. It is now or never! Noone is about! Rip off the plaster! You can do this! And then I flung the door wide open and raced to my goal. I grabbed the cellophane wrapped blob and raced back indoors, shutting the door and collapsing against it. I unwrapped the cellophane to find 2 perfectly preserved doughnuts, protected from the rain, and one with the promised pink icing! I felt so lucky. When you feel low, there is nothing quite like these little gestures, and knowing that people are rooting for you. If you know someone who is struggling, I recommend you bring them a doughnut immediately. Or write them a letter. Or send them a text. In a world where tiny things suddenly seem huge, a friendly text message can make more difference than you'd think.
It was only later on, as I was cleaning sticky pink icing off my hands, and my trousers, and the sofa, that I realised Sig had actually done more for me than he had intended. He hadn't just brought me a friendly gesture. By inadvertently leaving that gesture outside the wrong door, he had got me to leave the house. One small step for man, one huge leap for me. The fact that it turns out I am willing to face my fear and leave the house for doughnuts is kind of hilarious but not wholly unexpected.