Happiness by Maegan Clearwood

I’m happy when I look at my handwriting, the way my jays swoop across a line and curve into a yawning oh. I’m happy when I fish an ant out of my morning coffee and remember that I’m in college and pests are a necessary evil. I smile when I wriggle my head through the head of a just-tumble-dried turtle neck.

Sometimes, when it looks like I’m burrowed in a worry, even when my forehead is wrinkled and my mouth is pouched in a frown, I’m actually happy. Sometimes I’m as worried as I look, but sometimes I like people to worry that I’m worried.

I’m happy when I know I don’t have to be, when I’m alone and no one is around to appreciate my selfish grin. I’m happy when I’m alone and have every right to be unhappy. I’m happy when it’s just me in my room and I’m folded over on my bed and all I can see are my knees. I’m even happier when someone interrupts my muted happiness with a knock on the door and I have to uncurl myself to answer and say hello. I’m happy when my happiness reaches the door before I do.

Hunger makes me happy, the anticipation of food and conversation. Sleepiness makes me happy, too.

I’m happy when someone notices a stray hair or fuzzy on my sweater and takes the time to flick it off for me. I’m even happier when I do the same for someone else.

I smile when I highlight a word document and watch it swell from single to double space and my lost Sunday afternoon suddenly seems worthwhile. I smile when I close my eyes and I smile when I open them and nothing’s changed. I smile when I have nothing better to do.

I’m happy when it’s a contracted happiness, one that’s leeched onto me because I was too close to a contagiously wide-smiled stranger. I’m happy when I touch a doorknob and know that I’ve let some of my own happy germs behind.

I’m happy when I’m about to be sad, when I’m teetering between laughing and crying and I know that I’ll have to settle on one sooner or later, but I can still taste the guilty sweetness of joy on my tongue. Part of me stays happy and watches and smiles while the rest of me slips out of happiness for a little while, and that part of me smiles even wider when that little while is over.




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