As Rapture approaches, by Lucy Shulman

Lucy Shulman is 20. She used to be an attendee at a summer camp my wife ran. She is an insanely gifted writer—as natural as natural gets. Every so often she contributes to this blog. Here’s her take on, well, a day in the life …

Today was not a happy day for the Shulman family.

I, in desperation born of weekend plans, suffered for just under twenty four hours in the soulless bourgeoisie of my mother’s house in Staten Island–just long enough for me to do my laundry and finish my Nora Roberts novel.  I might’ve found time to sleep as well, but my rapidly aging dog, Peanut, in the custody of my mother since the split, burrowed her way in beside me between midnight and one, effectively ending my tossing and turning with a wriggling demand for attention.  I stilled my restless limbs, lest she depart and leave me alone in the midnight suburban silence, and spent the rest of the night fighting the wiry bitch for an adequate portion of the mattress.

Following the efficient and opportunistic frisk for pocket change by my youngest sister as she headed for school, I it was in between a listless helping of morning spaghetti and the second load of laundry that I discovered the bruises pocking my ribcage–Peanut still packs a hell of a kick.  Massaging them gingerly, I attempted to supplement my restless night’s sleep with a dog-hindered catnap before Caroline got home from school, yet found myself tormented by nebulous dreams of the impending apocalypse and woken abruptly by Caroline slamming gracelessly in just after two.

I called my dad and begged for rescue, and was grudgingly obliged. In retrospect, my day wasn’t so bad but for the haze of tiredness I spent it in—and the nocturnal palpitations I now endure as a result.

These palpitations not only further prevent my slumber, but I’m going to the yarn store with my bestie in just under twelve hours. That’s right, the yarn store. If the world is ending, I’m going out with a bang.

My inexplicably miserable day might be matched by that of my younger sister, Eliza. At sixteen, she spends most of her time contemplating things having to do with her, which, despite the fact that I’d prefer she focus on me and my needs, is understandable.

Following what I’m sure was a mind-numbing day of reviewing for finals at school, Eliza and her friends went on an arduous tramp through a sodden Prospect Park, accompanied by some little know-it-all bastard who quotes Nietzsche, talks incessantly, and brings in high-quantity booze. (Or so I’m told.) Eliza’s day was further sullied by an indignant parental lecture following her failure to answer her cell phone for three hours in the afternoon—not that she didn’t deserve it. On our way back from Staten Island, we picked her up at her friend’s house on Prospect Park West, and listened to her complaints in apathetic silence.

My mother claims to have had a splendid day. Biked to the ferry, then biked from the ferry terminal to her office in midtown–and back again at day’s end.  Between these two cycling thrills, she found time to work. She found time to wobble precariously on a couple of rugged wheels through the caprices of rush hour traffic and statistically probable injury. She found time to simper at my stepfather (who may or may not appreciate it) and she found time to watch the Dr. Oz show. She did not find time for her daughter.

My youngest sister, Caroline, had a decidedly average day. Not that we noticed, with everything else, but it seems worth mentioning.

The Big D had a fairly terrible day. His was spent flailing his way through a slushy quagmire of legal papers, fielding calls from two irritable daughters and one relentless ex-mother-in-law, flailing helplessly in a sea of financial chaos, and contemplating the thousands of details waiting for attention, and loose ends needing to be snipped in the process of closing down an eighty-year-old picture frame business, one that’s remained in the same location for more than fifty years, and accumulated quite a bit in that half century. He, like me, spent much of the day thinking, which always proves to be a dangerous pastime for those with our capacity for thought. In between contemplating the monumental tasks looming before him, he silently lamented the failure of the family business, and stemmed a handful of aspirin-induced nosebleeds and fought with his stubborn spring cold.

Tomorrow is May 21, 2011, a date that will never come again, just like March 4, 1675, August 27, 1973, April 18, 1922 and January 1, 1 AD (which, incidentally, was a Saturday.) It’s my grandmother’s 80th birthday, the alleged end of days, the birthday of Alexander Pope, and a Saturday.I wonder if it’s wrong to hope that tomorrow will prove average—an average day that will never come again.

Still, it’d make a nice change.