Monday, April 20, 2015

We Are So Fragile

Maybe you have to know darkness before you can appreciate the light. 
Madeline L'Engle

Sunday was like any other. I was running late and to my car, 1/2 my makeup on the other 1/2 in my bag as I locked the front door and turned to dash down the stairs. That's as far as I got. The back window of my car was bashed in. I took one look, said "Oh" and pivoted to go back inside.

This was dangerous -- not the circumstance itself. I knew it would be costly and cumbersome and rain was on the way. Those weren't the dangers. Those were the facts. My danger was emotional, knowing that one random act of violence could set off a chain reaction in how I see the world. How I would respond. How it would strike my thoughts and could shatter my emotions. This isn't the first window I've had busted out, so I knew. The first time I convinced myself it indicated a coming lifetime of navigating the world and it's problems alone, unsupported, and vulnerable. It was damaging train of thought triggered by broken glass. Since it happened again, what would follow?

That past reaction let me knew I needed to proceed with caution. This isolated act of destruction could destroy something far greater, if I'd let it. I started the mental list and the calls: police, insurance, glass repair, car dealership. I studied the weather and reached out to a few friends.

Then I started to catalog and collect things of the day the good things. I knew the stress and heightened sensitivity would allow me to remember vividly, so I tried to shore myself up attending them rather than my feelings.

I remember things like:
The black cat chasing robins in the lawn;
The cashier's "I'm New" badge;
A bird that pooped on my hand (Ok, who wouldn't remember that?)
That my neighbor drank chilled white wine on her porch;
Someone left a frying pan on top of the dumpster.

Those were just things, but good happened too.

My friend drove his car around a marathon to help me buy groceries.

The sun came out.

All of the neighbors clucked their tongues and shook their heads.

Passers by looked at the scene in a horrified way, revealing what I think to be true, that this is not normal to do or to see.

Just when I thought it was impossible, I got those blasted UMSL parking stickers off the window after all. (P.S. UMSL, I still want my money back.)

In addition to the good things I observed, I learned a few things I maybe wouldn't have. And for me there's something inherently thrilling about learning things.

Things I learned: 

1.) Bricks can't be dusted for fingerprints because they are too porous. (I don't believe this, but that's what the dispatcher told me.)

2.) The police department when filing a report takes down (seemingly) irrelevant information like birth date, marital status and ethnicity before they ask you what's wrong. I get it! I'm single in my 30s and white, okay? It hurt my feelings.

3.) I like motive. I want to know the motives behind people's actions. The thrill of destruction was too foreign  a reason for me in this case.  Instead I decided the person had a vengeful dislike for Ernest Hemingway. Therefore, I learned I shouldn't have 3 Hemingway novels in my car at any one time, since it evokes an irrational brick wielding wrath.

4.) I'm sensitive. (See number 2.) I didn't learn this, just confirmed it for the zillionth time.

5.) I want to reason with people and set some ground rules. So you're going to destroy my car, okay. Please do it in a somewhat controlled and considerate way and heed these:

  • If you're going to throw a brick in a car window, then don't do it on a Saturday night. Every repair place is closed on Sunday.

  • If you're going to throw a brick in a car window, then don't do it in April. There's so much rain to contend with and it will be a mess.

  • If you're going to throw a brick in a car window, then make sure they have a garage.

6.) My neighbor gives good hugs. She unhesitatingly took me into my arms and said, "This is such a violation." Then she let me use her garage until I got everything fixed up.

7.) The support of others makes a world of difference.
STL Heart Card

Thank you to everyone who helped me. You reacted with protective compassion when I needed shielding.