It’s Friday, and I’m flat astonished that I made it under these trees today. In a sense, today actually started at four yesterday afternoon, when my granddaughter called and said she’d be flying thru town Friday evening and wanted to drop by for a short visit.
I started shifting gears out of my normal routine. I did what is usually my early-Friday-morning laundry right after my granddaughter hung up yesterday, vying with an irritable, bedraggled lot for the Big Bertha washers in which I do a ton of window-cleaning trim and sill towels. Then I did my normal Friday “get the house in a semblance of order for the coming week” clean-up. Then gassed up my blue van for next week’s work. Ate a light supper, watched a DVD, and was in bed by nine.
Awake again at ten to a thunderous crash outside, followed by a car with a loud muffler racing off. Pull on my pants and out the door in slippers. Someone mangled most of the driver’s side grill and hood on my white van, the debris on the ground trailing off toward the back of the van, indicating whoever did it was driving down the wrong side of the road.
“Looked like a dark pick-up,” a couple standing on the corner smoking said. “He took off like a bat out of hell.”
A 9-1-1 call. Two cop cars eventually show up. A handful of neighbors in various stages of dress gather, speculating. Insurance papers, registration, driver’s license, flashlights flicking over the scene. Cops taking pictures of the van, the debris on the road, my license. Then one of them gets back in his car and starts filling out reports while the other continues asking me questions. Meanwhile, whoever hit my van could be ten miles down the road.
It’s midnight before I’m back in bed. Can’t sleep. Get up at five, eat breakfast, then start calling body shops. My insurance doesn’t cover a hit-&-run.
I call a tow truck company, they haul the white van down to a body shop. Seven blocks, $90. An hour later the body shop calls and says $2,500 bottom line, probably more like $3,000, maybe more. I say let me think about it and go shopping at Bi-Mart, drop $100 there. Then I go to Safeway for soup for lunch and lose my wallet with over $200 in it along with documents and credit cards. I take a deep breath and go to look at a van for sale, then go home and take a twenty out of my cash stash, drive thru for a mocha, and here I am.
Mostly what this deluge of disaster and financial rupturing makes me realize is how precisely fine-tuned I’ve made my life to shut out the madness and the rush-rush that pulverize sanity and mangle coherence. I’ve had to interact with more people outside my window-cleaning writing routine in the past eighteen hours than I normally interact with in a month.
Now to finish this mocha, light one more cigarette, and head home to greet my granddaughter.
My granddaughter didn’t show. The water pump in her car went out. So I drove my blue van around town last night, cruising the bars, hoping to spot a pick-up with damage corresponding to that on my white van. Went to bed around midnight. Crazy dreams. Up early. Spent the day paying bills and doing end-of-the week and end-of-the-month paperwork for the window business. Crashed around three in the afternoon, woke up at 5:30, and here I am under the trees again with my mocha as the sun sets.
I’m writing all this down with a mix of hesitation and urgency. This is not a Shard. This is not the way I normally write. This is the way I started writing with Tripping in America, written in 1982, published in 1984. Retrograde writing now, breakthru writing then, writing that was being driven out of me by being tangled up in the insanity, the rush, a wide push broom to clear the way for the Shards to come twenty years later. And good God almighty, on top of all this, rodeo weekend is just a week away! Around here Rodeo Weekend is a spike in the madness that surpasses in intensity the Christmas season.
I’ll type this up, send it out, maybe it will pull someone back from the edge, who knows? Then I’ll start putting up the walls to make it thru rodeo one more time – I live four blocks from the fairgrounds, and for four straight days, from morning to late at night, there’s a constant rodeo/carnival din and a non-stop stream of tourists, half of them dressed in store-bought cowboy outfits, going by my house. No place to park.
I’ll make it thru, repair the damage when it’s over, and slide back into Shards and windows.
Am I asking too much from life?