Exhale

I was laying in bed in the dark, my eyes were open and I was staring at the alarm clock on my dresser. It was 5:57. I turned and reached for my actual alarm clock, my iphone, and turned off the alarm before it went off. I got up and got dressed and ready very quietly, in the dark, because J has been working so hard and we’ve been going to bed so late. That handsome face deserves to sleep. I was ready with about an hour and a half to sapre, on purpose, before my last final exam of the semester. I decided to close all the window blinds to plunge the apartment in total darkness, and left quietly. I turned the key in the door lock as quietly and and as slowly as I could.

I took the elevator, walked out to the car, and chose to listen to a mellow song to calm my  nerves. I can’t even remember what it was now. Even though I’m not a breakfast eater, I also don’t normally get up at 6am. So I decided to go to the Tim Hortons drive through to get a coffee and a breakfast sandwich. The last thing I need is to worry about loud stomach hunger paings during my exam. I drove to the university, thinking that I would park in my faculty’s parking lot, turn off the radio, and eat and sip coffee while doing one last read through of my study guide. Upon arrival to said parking lot, I discovered that I wasn’t the only one with this idea. It was hard to focus on studying in the car when I was fascinated by watching a bunch of people in their cars in this parking lot, sipping coffee, smoking cigarettes, and studying for the same exam I was.

20 minutes before my exam, I got out of the car, spilling some of my XL coffee all over myself and my study guide. For some reason, today it didn’t matter. I grabbed 2 tissues and wiped it all off. I was wearing my most comfortable lounging outfit, determined not to be distrated by any unecessary things during exam : 2nd skin like black yoga pants that have two little while lines going down the side of my legs, giving me an illusion of slimness (I’d like to think), my Opeth t-shirt (from their stop in Moncton last Fall), my most comfy sports bra, my Shades of Sorrow hoodie (J’s band), and my hair up in a messy ponytail. No make up. No jewelry. I feel like I’m describing my opening segment if I was on ‘What not to wear’. You know me, you know that I LOVE the stuff in my closet and love any occassion to put outfits together. But in the past few years, I’ve come to really not give a single shit if I decide to go out in public wearing comfort. I don’t need to impress anyone but myself. And I impress myself when I am ok with letting myself be kind to myself. But either way, I think I look cute in yoga pants.

I walk the little hill up to the building, climb the stairs to the second floor, and locate room 207 and then head to the washrooms. When I walk towards the room, I notice for the first time that all of my classmates are sitting on the floor and standing in the dark, trying to squeeze in a last few minutes of studying. The classroom door is locked. No one can locate a light switch. People claim whatever sliver of lights they can find. It’s kind of eerie. We’re all studying in the dark, early on a Sunday morning, in an empty and quiet faculty. Are all early mornings this quiet and eerie?

I’m leaning against the brick wall, my coffee is sitting on the floor next to me. I’m tryingto drown out everything around me to also squeeze in a few more supply chain, international marketing, sales, marketing communication, etc facts and information. My back hurts. I look up in the air, discretely counting on my fingers while listing the different components of an integrated marketing commnicaty strategy when the teacher comes barreling down the hall in her flashy red skirt suit, stopped dead in her track in front of me, turns to me and asks : “Is the classroom locked?” It takes me 3 seconds to snap out of my studying reverie before I say : “Ummm… YES!” As if it was the first question on the exam.

I walk into the unfamiliar classroom and I try to assess my seating options as fast as I can because the heard of my classmates is moving quickly, claiming the best seats. I choose a seat in one of the front rows, as to minimize distractions. I am relieved to see that the 2 guys who also chose my row decide to sit 1 seat apart from each other and from me. Aaah, my bubble. The teacher then starts breaking up teams and friendships. Apparently it’s harder to cheat if you’re not sitting next to your friend? I don’t know. So she sends a guy to sit right next to me, in my bubble. Bah! I move my set up a little tighter and closer to me. On my right – My XL Tims coffee and a full bottle of water. What? Exams are dehydrating! On my left – 3 sharpened pencils, 1 eraser, 1 travel package of facial tissues, and my burt’s bees. In the pocket of my hoodie? The little crocheted snowflake that Julien’s mom gave me for good luck for my very first exam. It has brought me luck so far.

The teacher is talking about her zero plagiarism tolerance policy, that even a doubt is sufficient to yoink away our exam copy and send us on our way.

Teacher : “If I have to repeat myself, it’s -1 point!”

Random classmate : “But Ms…”

Teacher : “-1 point.”

[Rest of classmates trying to hide nervous and incredulous smiles.]

At some point a guy in my row turns his exam copy face down, and walks out of the class. I assume he’s going to the washroom. I also assume that the teacher is going to flip out and not let him finish his exam. I assume right.

Satisfied after two revision read throughs, I get up and bring my copy on the desk at the front of the class, and find my name to sign on the sheet, as instructed. Another student gets up and walks to the desk, and stands next to me. I’m thinking “Shit! She told us to wait at our seats and that only one person is allowed at once at the front desk and signage sheet! Surely she’ll see that it’s him and not me!” So I sign my name so fast that it’s not legible, grab all my things, and the rest of my now cold XL coffee, and walk out of the exam room, feeling FREE!!

I feel so free! I’m sitting in my walk in closet. My laptop is sitting on top of my ‘Joy of Cooking’ book, which I’ve never used for any other purpose than to prop up other things, which is resting on top of my little vanity mirror desk. The radio is playing at volume 3. Just loud enough for me to hear it. The rest of the apartment is still in total darkness. Minou (the cat) is still sleeping in her storage room, and J is still sleeping in bed. About 10 feet away from me, outside my closet door. Every few minutes I stop typing to hear the love of my life gently snoring. I know it’s creepy, but I love watching him sleep. I’d open the door right now to take a peek, but I don’t want to risk waking him up just yet. Here I am, sitting quietly in my 8×10 closet, feeling so FREE!!

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