I learned valuable bits o’ wisdom this weekend, which was a feat considering I was the only person I knew in town (that’s if you don’t count Oswald, and who are we kidding? I always do.) I was alone all weekend with my thoughts (and also Dawson’s Creek and Wuthering Heights and a Jodi Picoult novel and my tennis shoes and a Starbucks gift card and a Friday night visit from roommate Gracie and the air conditioner. I’m a grandparent’s rant called “Kids these days: They have it so good.”) Anyway, 45 percent of my thoughts were occupied with Dawson-Joey-Pacey woebegone confrontations, but welcome to the other 55 percent. (And that YouTube adventure makes me feel a lot better about watching Dawson’s Creek; at least I’m not creating montages and setting them to Coldplay songs.)
The thoughts began on my runs, and honestly, I’m using the term “run” loosely here. But I say if you run more than 13 seconds on a walk, it is eligible for “run” classification. Besides, at any given moment it’s 9,000 degrees outside, and I also say you get an honorable mention for even moving. Saturday, after Gracie had left and I’d napped after a 7 a.m. work shift, I got the itching to just go out. I was halfway down the Riverwalk, running pretty swiftly to be this close to the Equator, when I thought, all of a sudden, of the movie 127 Hours. (I erroneously thought before this moment that the movie was 37 Hours, but now I realize that wouldn’t be enough hours to make a movie about. 100 minimum, don’t you think?) Anyway, if you haven’t seen that movie, my homeboy James Franco goes out for a rock climbing adventure without telling anyone wheres he is, gets trapped in between a rock and a hard place, and has to cut his arm off to get out. I ran across the bridge over the river, and people, there were so many rocks. Not only that, but there was no one expecting me anywhere until Monday, and I stopped running and thought to myself, “Oswald doesn’t have opposable thumbs, he could not call 911, oh my stars, nobody knows I’m here!” It was also just north of 10 million degrees and things were looking kind of foggy on account of the fact that I didn’t have any water. So I did what any girl in her right (foggy?) mind would do: I alarmed my mom. “Running. . . I’ve read a lot of articles about this. It’s hot. Just so you know.” And also an old friend, nominated because he was within a five-mile radius of me: “Hi, yes, how are you, I’m out running and if I haven’t tweeted a photo of the sky in two hours, please come looking for me, I owe you a coffee, thank you.” I’m not good at punctuation when I’m sweaty, OK? (That was a joke; I’m always good at punctuation.) Anyway, on Sunday, I wised up and decided I was not going to do any arm-cutting-off. Lesson #1.
Post-run, I got really into cleaning, which is actually something I do pretty often. Once you get going, it’s really hard to stop, wouldn’t you agree? I was scrubbing toilets and vacuuming (which is actually my least-favorite chore and something I probably won’t do again until September HAHA just kidding Mom) and really I think I’m just letting you know my house was super clean. This will come into play later.
After that, it was back to Dawson’s Creek, and by 6:30 p.m., I was thisclose to posting the theme songs lyrics as my Facebook status, and I knew I had to step away. I went down to the Riverwalk again, this time just to watch the sun set, which may seem cliche, but it’s not cliche when you’re doing it, because every time seems brand new. I see it all the time, but I don’t watch it all that often. The same swells of awe and stillness swirled in my chest that did when I stood in the ocean; I thought that happened mostly by the shore, 400 miles away. I wondered—and asked—what I’d done to deserve an overdose of such beauty, one that exuded grace and mercy. The answer waltzed across the waters: “Nothing.” Oh. That’s my God. Thank you, thank you, thank you.
“From the rising of the sun to the place where it sets,
the name of the Lord is to be praised.” —Psalm 113:3
“I ought to do this every night,” I said to the fellow fishing next to me. He gave me a gummy smile and nodded. “I do,” he said. Lesson #2.
What happened next isn’t a new story; I like to think I’ve gotten better than, say, when I had multiple panic attacks over the suckers last summer, but it’s still no walk in the park. For either of us. I knew it had to be coming. It’s the heat that draws them in (my house was clean! and vacuumed!) and also probably my pheromones because they only target me, but that’s just a theory. Luckily, for me, I happened to already be engaged in conversation with my superb friend Norman when I saw it scuttle across the carpet. I felt that familiar knot of panic and bile in my stomach and I broke out in sweat and I sent a text that said, “I just saw a cockroach. I’m probably going to die. It was nice to knowing you.” Well, that night, he responded with, “The pleasure was all mine,” which really just got him an eye roll, but the next night this exact same scene transpired again, and I sent the exact same text, wondering why all the roach-killing spray was at Wal-Mart and the strapping young men I knew were in Far Far Away Land. This time, he sent some encouragement.
I guess you’ve gathered this by now, but let me spell it out for you: I’m a smarter woman than I was last Friday. I’m all about independence, but I learned that sometimes, you’ve got to say, “I need you to have my back so I don’t have to cut off my arm.” I’m all about stopping to smell (and Instagram) the flowers, but sometimes, you’ve got to look up and see the sun set. I’m all about letting boys kill cockroaches, but sometimes you’ve got to go in your bedroom with the broom and the Lysol and show them who’s boss. But don’t kid yourself; I slept on the couch that night.
If you want to know more about the long road to wisdom, you should listen to this song. I know. I’m pushing them on you, and you will like it.