I’m sitting in a Target Starbucks, waiting. It’s been a busy day, capping a busy week, capping a busy month. One of those periods of time where it feels like everything is piling on.
I try not to be a complainer. I try not to blow my troubles out of proportion. In a couple weeks, I likely won’t remember the last thirty. But right now, I’m waiting. And my mind has a lot of time for complaining.
Tomorrow I’m hitting the road for Maine, my first vacation in a few years. It’s the kind of vacation with a hidden agenda, looking out with a keen eye for the Five Year Plan, but also the two year plan. And the one month plan. The kind of trip that, as I envision, is a detonator box, ready to blow. I’m excited. But right now, I’m waiting.
My new car is being looked at because at some point in the last two days I’ve likely hit a nail (yes, the car I just bought). Two days before that, I’d rolled my ankle (it’s currently a beautiful shade of aubergine). the week before that, I pulled my back. A month ago, when I’d finalized my plans, I set myself a goal. 10,000 steps a day to prepare myself for my week of adventuring. I had brand new hiking boots to break in, after all. And new shirts that actually fit. And I had to be prepared for my trip.
On my first day off, I felt invigorated. My new boots had yet to arrive. I walked up to the local mall, the very one I’m in now waiting for my car; I walked around it, through it, past it, back and forth and around. I felt like a health goddess. I was ready to be an influencer. I repeated this another three days off before heading back to work. A few days later, another day off, I strapped on my hiking boots. They’d finally arrived. I’d hit my step goal a good week and a half in a row. I felt full of energy and I set off to repeat my success. I needed to buy the right socks for this, so I bandaged my ankle and stepped out into the mid-nineties sun.
And twenty minutes later, blisters. Pain. it was stupid to expect anything less; the bandages had done nothing but slip into the boot, and my normal socks were not high enough to protect my skin. I limped through the mall, wincing, silently cursing my stupidity.
I did not have time to sit there, to wait. I was on a mission. I found the better, smarter compression socks I had set out for. There is nothing as embarrassing for someone like me as changing your socks in the middle of a sunny, hot day on a bench outside the mall. Waiting for enough people to disappear. Waiting for the right time. Fishing the failed bandages from my boot. Rolling the socks up just enough to slip them on in between gaggles of mall shoppers.
I quickly walked home, the pain held back by the roll of the sock, just enough pressure to prevent rubbing. When I finally got home, I sighed with relief. I took off the boots, dropped the shopping bag full of evidence of my failure aside, and removed my sunglasses. And then, it hit me.
My glasses were missing. Gone. Vanished. Without a trace. I was blind, tired, wincing. And I would have to go back out. I was sure they’d be smashed along the side of an intersection. My mind raced with the idea of a dozen people watching the fat guy lose his glasses running across the intersection. When I found them, I was flabbergasted- they were, in fact, at the intersection. Glass scratched, yes, but not in pieces. The frame bent, but fixable. I made my way home, feeling like everything was constantly against me.
I hadn’t had time to wait. To sit here. To think. To write it out. I knew only one thing. The universe had it out for me. but then I was home. I found another pair of glasses. I sat. I thought. I took the time. And I committed.
I committed to not letting this derail me. I took a day to heal, just enough, and I headed out to get some blister healing bandages. (The relief of those things is instant, by the way; a true mystical product.) and I kept walking. Every day.
I felt great. And then I hurt my back.
What the hell, universe?
Having an injured back means you’re kind of forced to take the time to wait. To sit. To think.
And it wasn’t really the universe, was it? I walked with the wrong socks. I ran across the intersection. I lifted a sofa by myself (twice).
After a few days my back felt better. Even now it feels tender than it used to. I was finally ready to step out and get back to walking. the next morning I stepped out the door to head to work. One, single, step. Ankle, out. Pain, shooting. Limping to my car. Not, fucking, this.
This was one that I can’t personally figure out how it’s my fault. It’s embarrassing injuring your ankle stepping out the door. But it is what it is. It’s not the universe, anymore than it’s the universe by simply existing in the universe.
I had this very conversation with a coworker. She knows me well. We have a similar propensity for woo thinking, I believe. The first thing she said to me after I explained my situation was, don’t take this as a sign. It just happens.
This isn’t the first bad month of my life. I’ve had approximately 360 of them, give or take, because life is tricky. But my life journey lately has really been transformational. I used to avoid doing things in order to avoid obstacles. Because sometimes things happen, and I’m good at attributing them to the wrong things. If I just don’t do anything, nothing bad will happen. But nothing good happens, either.
It’s taken me those 360(ish) months to get to the point where I get this. A few years ago I’d have taken this tire failure as a sign of the inevitable hatred the universe has against me. I wouldn’t have spent the last two hours walking (my ankle is better, even if it’s aubergine, darling). I wouldn’t be sitting here in this Target Starbucks writing, processing these events healthily. I’d be stewing in the corner of the Firestone, acting like a god damn Jean Valjean.
It’s important that I celebrate the little things, because for so long I could celebrate nothing. I didn’t have a plan of any amount of length, or any healthy coping mechanisms. I had a factory full of ennui.
I’m losing weight, I’m getting my vitamins, I got back in school for next semester. I got rid of the pandemic pile of projects trash. I didn’t let any of the bad things that happened this month derail my veganism. Je suis content.
So I’m sitting here, waiting. Not complaining. I’m recommitting. I’m not derailing. I’m focusing on tomorrow, on my excitement. I’m ready to take on the world. And that’s progress.