“Are you okay?”
I peer at the concerned face of my co-worker through red-rimmed eyes and sigh. Yes, it does look like I’m hiding out at my desk, crying. I would probably think the same thing if I saw my co-worker hugging a box of tissues and wearing her mascara in uneven, watery lines on her cheeks, and her head resting dangerously low to the desk as though she might just topple over at any moment.
“Yes, I’m fine. It’s just allergies.”
Just allergies. Just the perennial season of yellow clouds of pollen descending upon us in some sort of flowery apocalypse determined to rouse every cell in my body to produce histamine and completely overreact to these microscopic minions of spring. I pop the Wal-Zyr (the Walgreens off-brand version of Zyrtec) as often as is safe in hopes to counter my body’s overzealous attempts to rid itself of pollen and possibly kill me in the process of doing so.
It probably doesn’t help that I just can’t stay inside. My library is basically made of glass, and I see the warm sun and the beautiful flowering plants from nearly every corner as I tidy up books or assist customers with printing. It calls to me, its siren song reminding me of how nice it would be to take a short walk outside, feel the balmy, crisp spring air, smell the light flowery fragrances, and take some incredible #springselfies that will get so many likes on Instagram. I all but press my face against the glass as I longingly watch people enjoying the great outdoors while I work in the overly air conditioned, fluorescent-lit library. As soon as I have my lunch break, I rush out the door with my trusty Fitbit in tow, take big, deep breaths of the allergen-laced but refreshing outdoor air, and try to squeeze in as many steps as I can in a 20 minute time-frame. It is 72 degrees outside, sunny, with only a few fluffy clouds in the sky: pure spring weather perfection. And for those brief moments, I am content.
But the fun quickly vanishes when my eyes start to water. My head starts to pound, and my eyes begin to itch and then water incessantly, irrespective of the time and care I put into my eye makeup this morning. I want to lay my head down on my desk and sleep, but this is frowned upon at my job as they expect me to actually work and not rest in my allergy-induced coma. Instead, I try to focus on my work and trying to sniffle as quietly as possible, wondering if I should invent a tissue box belt that has a place for used tissues and a hand sanitizer dispenser. It’d probably make my butt look fatter though, so I suffer in the silence.
I am starting to feel pretty sorry for myself as I vainly try to dab at my eyes in hopes of maintaining some scrap of eye shadow before 2:30 PM when I look over at my co-worker, sniffling and covertly popping an allergy pill. We quickly bond over our mutual hatred of the yellow sheen all the cars have now and how we fear we may not survive until May, and while commiserating over our allergies does nothing to alleviate the suffering, it does remind me that I’m not alone and that perhaps, I will make it to this summer and terrify beach-goers with my ghostly pale skin yet again.