Life is like a Box of…Q-Tips

I use Q-tips cotton swabs to clean out my ears. I’m pretty sure physicians and the Q-tips product box would all highly recommend that I stopped doing that for the safety of my ears. But it’s unlikely that I will stop.

I used the last Q-tip of the box yesterday. Every time I finish a box of Q-tips, I start getting nostalgic. Not with memories of me using each and every Q-tip. I’m actually picturing myself now, standing over the empty box, tears welling up, thinking of all the great times we’d had together. Like that time I cleaned out my ears after I showered. Or the other time I cleaned out my ears after I showered. Or maybe the time I attempted the “smoky eye” look and used a Q-tip to smudge my black eye liner, only to have it smear up my eyelid instead of across it. Then when I tried to blend it in using an array of purple and grey hues, it mostly looked like a bruise, and all the rubbing with the Q-tip made it somewhat red and swollen. So basically I looked like I had been punched in the eye, and since I wanted to avoid any possibility that people would think I had an abusive, possessive boyfriend, I had to cancel my evening plans of going out with the girls and made up some excuse that my boyfriend and I were just going to have a quiet evening at home. So luckily my friends only thought my boyfriend was possessive, not possessive and abusive.

OK, so maybe not every memory was a good one. Anyway.

I get nostalgic every time I finish a box of Q-tips because the boxes are huge — 750 cotton swabs. That’s like two years of cleaning my ears after a shower. It makes me think back to whenever I must have purchased that box and how different my life was. Two years ago, I was brand new at my job. I had only been living in the Minneapolis area for a few months and hardly knew my way around (except Mall of America and Southdale Mall — I knew those areas very, very well). I had friends then who I don’t even speak to now. I had acquaintances who, today, are people I don’t go a day without e-mailing. I had just finished a string of bad dating experiences with guys who were so obviously not right for me or who may have been decent but I was too immature and neurotic to know how to act in the situation (that hasn‘t totally changed, but I‘m getting better…slowly). I was just about to experience a horrific accident that almost took the life of a dear friend and changed the course of my career in a matter of minutes. I hadn’t yet met the person who now is so much a part of my life that it’s hard to remember he ever wasn’t in it.

I know that two years isn’t considered a long time, but it’s amazing how much life seemed to happen and change during that time.

My dad and I were talking this weekend about how when you have some kind of stressful situation going on, especially at work, you might say to yourself, “I just want this day/week/month to go by.” As if once you get to the end of that day/week/month, things will be so much easier or better. But the truth is, especially at work, once you get through one thing, something else will come up that’ll be just as annoying or just as stressful. It doesn’t end. And if it does, it probably means you’re either unemployed or dead. We spend so much of our time wishing our lives away. It seems kind of strange. I feel like if you asked someone who knew their time here was about to end, they’d want every day to last as long as possible, even if it means they can’t run or walk as fast as they used to. I bet they’d be happy to have a frustrating project at work that was going to be frustrating for at least a month, if not more, just so they had something else to think about instead of medication or pain or death. And since most of us don’t know when our time here will be done, it seems like we should try to just enjoy the minutes we are given instead of wishing them all away.

I bought a new box of Q-tips today. I‘ll be thankful for each and every one I‘m able to use.


3 thoughts on “Life is like a Box of…Q-Tips

  1. Exactly. I am positive we are related, not just because we are, but because that was me(minus all the thoughtful stuff).

  2. I must have way dirtier ears than you, I plow through a box of Q-Tips in like two months or so. Although I guess Grace is using ’em too…so that makes some sense.

    I totally agree with what you’re saying though.

    I get kind of freaked out when I think back to before we moved out here, things are oh so very different. It’s weird how that works out.

    On an unrelated note, this totally reminded me that we’re out of Q-Tips! 🙂

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