My car ran out of gas yesterday. I was in it, with a wallet stocked with cash and cards, and still, I sat at the bottom of an off ramp. Honking traffic was backing up behind me, one block from an actual gas station.
My mind whirled: What if I left the vehicle to go get gas, and someone plowed into me, flashers and all, and ruined the car we’ve had only since June? Wait, would it be better to stand next to the car because people would notice a big giant person on the off ramp sooner than they would a tiny car? What if they didn’t notice, and hit me instead? I’d hate to die in the middle of the road for no reason at all except that I’d lost my sh*t.
I could’ve noticed that warning light before I got on the highway. Who leaves home for a Very Important Meeting without looking to see if they have enough gas? Me. I was nearly dead with the shame of it.
Since the roadside guy told me to stay in my vehicle, I had some time to just think; the first thinking time I’d had in weeks. I saw this coming a few weeks ago, and did not act. Matter of fact, I said to my Beloved And Much Longed For while I ransacked my purse for car keys, “Uh oh. I’m coming apart. This is the part where I lose it.”
“No, you don’t lose it. You have a lot on your mind. It’s not you.”
“No, It’s me. It’s definitely me.”
“Well. Tell me how I can help.”
I did not. I don’t know, sometimes, how to be helped.
It’s only the good things that make me lose it, too. If there’s bad news, I pull my inner self tight, everything lashed down and ready for battle. When it’s terrible news, I start cooking – people need to eat no matter what happens, and so I often turn up on the battle field with a warm casserole.
But good news? I come to pieces. I am the person who leaves home for a vacation in the Caribbean with no passport. Who walks down the aisle at my sister’s wedding with wet hair. Who can’t go to sleep the day before I have a baby, so I stop in the middle of the whole thing to take a three hour nap. What? Labor is exhausting!
And here I am, at the threshold of a dream come true, a 45 minute workshop of a one act play based on my little novel, out of gas on the off ramp.
I remember telling myself when I was in childbirth, “It’s just one rough day. At the end of this all, you’ll get to meet your baby.” During the labor, my husband was worried sick for me, as I was in pain and totally silent. That’s not like me at all. If I’m uncomfortable, someone is going to know about it. But that day, I couldn’t talk. I was busy losing my sh*t.
I am trying, in the midst of waiting for this newest baby to arrive, to do something good for my body and spirit each day… but I remain untethered. The world turns around me, but I am with my story- in the hands of the actors, the director, technicians, and an artistic team. It is, like actual labor, exhausting.
Oh, but when she gets here! There’ll be a party with sweets and music.
Until then, I’m going to keep working and waiting. And, I’ll check the gas gauge each time I leave the house.