I knew my period was coming. I felt it in my paper thin disconnection from the people around me hours before I felt it in my body.
I didn’t know it yet, though, when I drove my car around the bend. I should have. My period has been unpredictable for awhile. I should have known, as I faltered so brilliantly: This was the day it would begin again. But I didn’t.
Not that it would have made much difference.
Half a block from my daughter’s friend’s house, I knew only that the car was packed and we were on our way, forty-five minutes early, all of us eager to begin. The sun was the perfect brightness for mid-morning and I was headed out of town for the holiday in a t-shirt, short pants and sandals. Life. Was. Grand!
When we turned down my daughter’s friend’s street, I was faced with a choice: Drive along the narrow passage to the left of a large, well-marked, gaping hole and risk my wheels tipping into the hole … OR … Drive into the one-inch deep indentation in the road in front of me and risk scraping the bottom of my car.
In retrospect, I should have parked right there at the moment of choice and walked to the end of the block to retrieve our young friend with her overnight bag. But, no.
I drove right into the indentation. Right INTO the indentation. I didn’t understand what was happening when I first began to sink. I didn’t have a sinking sensation. It wasn’t like that. I was stuck. I knew that much. I tried to drive forward. I tried to drive in reverse. I floored the gas pedal. I rocked the wheel back and forth, trying to get a better angle on the bumps leading into and out of the hole, but my car wouldn’t budge. So I put on my hazards and opened the car door to wet cement.
What I love is that when I texted my Honey to let her know I was stuck in wet cement, she called to ask if I was speaking metaphorically. Gotta love being married to a poet, right? I assured her I wasn’t, then got off the phone immediately because people were arriving to push my car out of the hole. More people. Trying again to push my car out of the hole. Trying to help. It still wouldn’t budge.
By then, I’d been talking and trying and scheming and worrying for nearly an hour and my hopes were sinking as the cement dried.
Eventually, two very kind men pulled my car out of the hole backwards across two thin boards, pulling it with a heavy chain up the tilted bed of a flatbed truck. The cement company manager hosed down my tires, removing hubcaps and carefully cleaning the inside of each wheel. He hosed down the under-carriage, too, ensuring my brakes and everything else was free from debris. I was grateful. Embarrassed and grateful.
I mean, even if there isn’t a sign, who doesn’t recognize wet cement?
Still, my car – two hours later and with all four wheels on the road – was much cleaner than when we began. My girl was giggling with a friend in the backseat. And I had the pleasure of knowing we had pulled all the neighbors out of their houses for a mid-morning summer block
party gaper’s circle gathering of concerned citizens. Clearly, our village neighbors had my back. Especially the mother of my daughter’s friend, who didn’t leave my side once the whole time.
One gentleman, after telling me all about the trials and tribulations of his niece’s transracial domestic adoption, even asked if he should take up a collection for the tow truck fee.
I love where I live.
And I love that I’m able, now and again, to drive away. Even if I drive into a few unmarked holes and have to wait for a heavy chain and a handful of kind souls to help. I mean, that’s life, right? Metaphorically speaking.
Here’s hoping for a smooth ride home.
Last kids’ yoga class.
Last night of tutoring.
Last Girl Scout gathering.
Last day with a school-issued iPad.
Last day of elementary school.
With each last, my girl looks me in the eye,
pouts her lip like she did when she was five
and says, “How sad!” But she doesn’t mean it.
She cracks the tiniest smile each time,
leaving me to ask myself if Sad
is the only ending I offered,
if Sad is the only ending I know.
Tomorrow, I drop my daughter off
for the last day of fifth grade.
Tomorrow, I drop my daughter off
for her last day of fifth grade.
And tomorrow night, we dance.
A few weeks after Kelly and I started dating, on the 45-minute drive between her home and mine, I decided I needed a mobile phone — to stay connected with the people in my life. Before Kelly, I talked with friends every night from my home phone — you know, the one that plugged into the wall. Nearly every lunchtime, I chatted from the office phone, too, or from the pay phone downstairs in the quick-stop market next to a machine that every thirty seconds announced, “Create-a-Card!”
Now, twelve years later, I text. Silently. Briefly.
While I was in high school, my dad spent long hours on the computer at night. It upset my mom, who wanted him around while she ironed and watched her shows. She wanted him to come to bed before she fell asleep. She wanted to see him, talk with him, be with him. Never mind that she was lesbian. That didn’t come to light for a long, long time and by then, I had decided technology was the enemy, keeping people apart, stealing our attentions, lighting up our lives in unnatural ways. I wanted nothing to do with computers. I didn’t even want to learn to type.
I’m not saying this line of reasoning was wrong.
But I remember earlier, a younger me sitting in a room on campus, where I’d go sometimes with my professor dad. I remember drawing or writing or reading or waiting while the computer spit out green and white striped pages, connected and perforated. The computers were enormous and loud. I loved their racket all around me. I loved their rhythms and their beeps and their hums. I loved knowing my dad was nearby, and understood these big brilliant things. No one else I knew had seen a room like this. No one I knew had any inkling what these tall, touch-the-ceiling computers with their dot matrix and binary codes would eventually become. No one I knew had any clue, except my dad.
He was thrilled by them.
Eventually, I learned to type because I wanted to act. My parents required it. You want to act? You’ll learn to type. I hated having a back-up plan. I wanted to succeed on the stage.
I would have, too, if I’d been willing to wander around the country for a long, long while, never settling in one place, never knowing how long a given gig would last. I would have made enough money to scrape by, to sleep under some roof, to eat. I would have. Probably.
I acted for a long time. I supported myself. I dug into Chicago. I built a life. I tried to wait tables and failed. I signed with a temp agency, learned some word processing, formatted documents, changed colors and fonts. I wrote and I wrote and I wrote and I wrote, and now, to support myself and contribute to the family income, I write mostly for the worldwide web. By typing. At a computer. Every. Single. Day.