An Outbreak of Cabin Fever

Some of us are so in tune with our Seasonal Affective Disorder that we prep for it. Here’s a manifesto for those of us who plan for hibernation. A lyrical tribute to agoraphobia, full of rhymes, mixed metaphors, and alliteration.

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An Outbreak of Cabin Fever

Sensing an epidemic on the horizon, the birds evacuate. Seeing an infection spread across the leaves, the squirrels dig fallout shelters. Watching the clouds, we wait for an air born agent to whiteout the earth, and blot out the sun. We sense an outbreak of cabin fever, a transmission of isolation.

Stocking up on comfort foods, we can our emotions before they go bad. We insulate our hearts before they freeze shut. We look across the bar for something to wrap ourselves in, to heat our beds when we get the chills; an autumn romance, a snow blind date, an eleventh hour Valentine.

Fishing for compliments, we feed our egos just incase we have to live off of them. We bait our lovers to tell us something that will last through winter. Something to quote in front of the mirror. We ask them to pad it out to keep us warm, to fill it with enough hot air to inflate our self images.

Stuffing our pillows with short term goals, we rest on stockpiled New Years’ resolutions. We count plans like they were sheep. They always seem more realistic once we’ve fallen asleep. Our calendars are crossword puzzles begging to be filled. We write list poems in our daily planners, haikus under our reminders.

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Filling our DVRs, every night is movie night. Building endless streaming queues, we binge through every TV series. Every weekend is a marathon. We’ve watched The Wire. You don’t have to tell us about it. We’ve seen every frame of Breaking Bad. We’re way ahead of you on that. While you’re catching up with The Walking Dead, we’ll be digging into series from the seventies. We’re half way through Night Gallery.

We stack books, when we run out of shelf space. We fold pages, when we run out of bookmarks. We have so many options, all we ever read are spines. There’s a hardcover propping up every lopsided desk. There’s a paperback on every surface. The nightstand is cluttered with cliffhangers. The coffee table is teaming with tragedies. The toilet is flooded with fables. Escapism is always at arm’s reach. Fantasy is always a couch cushion away. Distractions are falling out of the ceiling.

We may be alone, but we’ll never have to be alone with our thoughts.

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The fever gets under our skin. Spores linger in the air like a Minnesota goodbye. We quarantine ourselves to keep them from spreading. Calling in to work, we cancel our engagements. We disappear from the public eye for fear that we might infect it. We’re not presentable, strutting down the hallway in our bathrobe fashion show.

We’re sick of it all. Our vision is too blurry for the book club. Our hands are too shaken for board games. Our ears are too muffled for trivia. A fine wine would be lost on our runny noses. Mood lights would leave trails in our eyes. Home cooking would get stuck in our sore throats.

Staying in on Friday nights, we watch the drunken parade shamble down the sidewalk. Moving in streaks, they speak in chipmunk tones. The snow sizzles beneath their feet. The fog parts with their every breath. They brush their cares off their shoulders like so much ash. With our fingers in the blinds, we’re rear window witnesses. We watch the winos make accidental snow angels. We watch the sorority sisters ruin their heels.

The only thing that slips past us is time.

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Socks find their way on top of our alarms. Dishes stack in front of our microwave clocks.
Bills pile on top of our watches. Hiding behind the overcast, the sun could be mistaken for the moon. Riding the line between black and blue, the color of the sky can only be described as “day for night.”

Running up the electric bill, we overdose on light therapy. Making our dens as bright as movie sets, we cast shadows out completely. Gouging ourselves on guilty pleasures, we fill freezers with Ben & Jerry’s. Our refrigerators are lined with bottles. Our cabinets are clogged with foil. We know that red wine is best served with caramel, orange powdered junk food, and a generous helping of easy cheese.

Our laptops become belly-tops, then chest tops, then pillow tops. Overloading our browsers with tabs, all we see is the first initial of every article. We’re not up on current events, we’re swimming in them.

We watch our Facebook feeds for conversations to jump into. Throwing so many posts at the wall, we hope that one of them will stick. We’re panhandlers begging for clicks.

Living vicariously through our enemies, we peep through a window wide enough for the world to see. We watch them microblog from cab seats, check into concert halls, and tag themselves on dance floors. Sharing photos from every vantage point, they leave none of their evening to the imagination. They report in so frequently, we wonder how they have time to make memories.

They set us up to “Like” their night, a sting operation to illicit the sting of jealousy. They wave their slideshows in our faces, entrapping us into envy. The pressure gets to us, even when our peers aren’t present.

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Exploring every cupboard, we examine our options. Questing through cramped quarters, we search for meaning. Dragging the carpet, we look for nuance. We give our square footage the thousand yard stare. Climbing the walls, our claustrophobia reaches new heights. We walk a mile just pacing the hallway.

Stepping outside, our shadows loom long and far. We incur six more weeks of winter, before we can even reach the car.

Wake us when the Christmas lights come down, when the New Year’s resolutions expire, and all the heart-shaped candies go on sale. Wake us when its time for sweeps, when the blockbusters come out, and all the drive-throughs open up. Wake us when we can sit on the patio, when we can drink outside, and all the good food is in season.

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