Yesterday my dad’s car broke down while he was on the phone with my mom.
“My car just stopped working.”
“What do you mean?”
“Do you think you should hang up now?”
Yesterday my husband’s car broke down. That is, the clutch stopped working. He jerked it into a parking lot and then it quit. AAA said, “You do know this is your fourth tow this year?”
I went to rescue him, his knight in shining armor.
This is not the part where things go so horribly wrong that you laugh hysterically. Or cry hysterically, beating your head off the dash. This is the part where you sit in the cold and stare unseeing out your cold window, realize that you’re watching your husband push his car across an abandoned parking lot at 8 PM on a Friday night all by himself, poke your head out the window and mumble something about . . . “help?” . . . and he says, “I got this.” Yeah, bud. We got this.
And then you say things like, “At least we’re not hurt. At least you didn’t stall in the road. At least we had one last tow.”
At least you wound up in this God-forsaken part of town after dark where you froze till I came and was grumpy and shared with you all the worst parts of my day and myself. At least you didn’t die, at least we’re sort of wedged under the fingernails of Providence.
Yesterday I thought I lost my laptop, but my husband said, “Isn’t it at the foot of the bed? I stubbed my toe on it last night.”
Oh, thank God. Thank God for laptops, tows, triple A; for stubbing our toes on good things, on reminders that we’re still alive.
We talk casually of stumbling — “I stumbled over / into / onto this fact / person / song.” I would love to stumble into good things, without so much of the stumbling. Because it hurts. Because I don’t know how we’re going to pull this off.
Today I sat with the dog for a long time. We split an English muffin and napped in the sunshine while my coffee got cold (disclaimer: she did not have coffee). If you’ve got a good dog, you have the simplest relationship in the whole world — I’m good to you; you’re good to me. Friends forever. I could use more simple in my life.
Instead I’m the kind of person who loses planners, spills coffee, can’t bake, forgets to call, stares unseeing into the cold and wonders, well, how in the world are we going to make it through this.
But I can start over, deliberately forget to count the times I’ve started over, buy a new planner, make another pot of coffee. Pick up overtime, return our Christmas gifts, reschedule our dinner date, or just wait till Thursday. Turn up the Christmas music, receive doggy kisses, be honest with a dear friend, remember life in dry bones, remember to breathe.