It’s not a floodgate that holds back the tears. It’s a reservoir contained by a spigot. And as it’s nearly rusted over, opening it yesterday means that even though the spigot’s tightened fast, a sputtering, hissing leak continues. I have the suspicion that the only true way to correct it is to let it all pour out. A draining, if one can endure the political reference, of my personal swamp.
But there’s a hundred distractions and I can’t. I can’t go there. There isn’t time, there isn’t the far, open field devoid of trees where I can run and run and run and just scream my voice raw. I mentally invent this place and the absence of its copy in reality makes me feel as though my soul is doused in hot, oily, wool sweaters.
I had a car thing today.
I wanted to melt-down since first thing this morning. I was up early. Early enough to go to breakfast and be an adult. I told myself I could go get my oil changed, something simple I need to do, and I didn’t do it. I didn’t, because it wasn’t the exact, usual, comfortable plan. I might be late for work. Tomorrow, tomorrow, we’ll do it tomorrow. And this great idea being snuffed out became metaphoric. Everything felt on edge. All my issues felt frayed around the edges and showing up to spit in my face. A woman who teased me in school who has since become a super-duper Christian volunteering lady, announced on Facebook that she was pregnant. I felt the abject loneliness of my life as a tidal wave. I felt the self-esteem shit, the fraud police, the I don’t deserve to work at this fancy boutique shop because I dress like an idiot and everyone’s too nice to tell me line of attack.
At the shop, they kept playing John Denver and Fleetwood Mac and Simon and Garfunkel. The songs that make me weepy. Like For You. It might as well have been Never a Doubt. I felt the shivery feeling that I was going to cry at some sort of level that was beyond my control. Like I was near to bolting out of there. They asked me how the job search was going. I told them how my other job is moving and I did NOT want to go with it. I felt the desperation in my voice. I didn’t bolt. Didn’t cry. I waved hello to customers awkwardly, when they didn’t hear me say hello, I repeated it more loudly. I emailed my sister and suggested we get Chinese to eat while we watch the debate. She said my mother was making food, to come over. It would be festive. Or something.
Leaving work, I was stuck behind a student driver car, laughing lightly to myself about how long ago that was. That there was driving anxiety, but I could still go the speed limit. Then, of course, irony dictates, I couldn’t go up the hill. Or I didn’t. Not really. Not in one go. It’s the easiest way and I was worried about my brakes on the hill, for reasons that have been debunked and debunked. I envision sliding back, rolling backwards, laws of gravity suddenly subverted. My heart can’t take it. My face feels like it’s full of hot, pumping, blood. I could hear my mother’s panicked voice when we took that road when I was first learning to drive. “You’re losing power!” I didn’t know what it meant at the time. I felt as though something was horribly wrong and I was already having panic attacks while driving. That hill is usually fine, especially when the light is green. Tonight, though, whoosh, the impulse to get off the road overtook me, so 2 minutes from my mom’s, there I am, turning off on the little mid-hill ramp that I have never taken in my life…I put the car in park, grab my phone for an anchor. 30 seconds later, I sigh, breathe, realize I can’t just live in this car in front of a stranger’s house forever, and make my way back up the hill.
It might have been my own private moment of weakness that I can add to my paper chain of failures that decorate my mind. Then, Hillary crushed it and it was time to go home. My dad informed me that I’d parked like an idiot. He used nicer words. I was expecting him to be home and in the garage and for it not to have mattered. Apparently, I was blocked in.
I thought, well, hell, I am an adult, I can do this. I can figure this out, I can be careful.
My father, my sister, my sister’s boyfriend and their dog, were all over looking me from the front porch. I could see their teeth hissing in consternation as I tried to be obedient to their directions and not hit my father’s truck – all of which were different and not a one made sense to me. Finally, it reached a point where they were in crisis mode. My sister strode over to the car and said I should get out and let her do it.
In that instant, I thought of the countless times that people have suggested I get out of the way and let them do it. I thought of the hill. I thought of my hair. I thought of everything that minimizes my soul until you could fit it into one of those little tupperware cups you put thumbtacks in. I saw red.
I told her to go inside. My father moved his car. And this time, I bolted.
I had a car thing.