Friday, June 11, 2010

If You Were Just You

She sat outside and contemplated life's questions and listened to the world all around.  Cars, fireworks, air conditioning units, insect noises and jets rumbled through the night air.  She thought about fear.

Someone once referred to her as a Fearless Mother.  It wasn't very long ago but it seemed so far fetched at the time.  But now?  Maybe not.  She didn't so much fear things as consider them.  She couldn't think of one thing she would be afraid to try if she really wanted to do it.  She decided she had no interest in diving into a lake full of piranha.  She was maybe afraid of snakes.  But so was Indiana Jones and she decided snakes have their value in the world - she conceded to a moderate fear of snakes.

But anything else that might come along was either navigable or to be avoided all together.  There's no shame in knowing your limits.  There is a sense of pride in boundaries, in fact.  You don't avoid dark alleys because you're scared of them.  You avoid dark alleys because you have more sense than god gave a spoon.

****

Fear of Loss is a powerful motivator - but I once had a moment to really think about that. 

I was on my way to be a bridesmaid in Betty's wedding - Labor Day weekend 1995.  It was dead hot and I eschewed AC in the car because I had all the windows open and I felt tougher than the heat.  For whatever reason I left out of Alexandria, Virginia heading south on Route 1 instead of I-95 during rush hour traffic on a holiday weekend.  That may have been a bit of serendipity considering what happened next.

Not too long into the drive, just outside of Stafford, my car totally died.  I forget how I managed to get it off the road and over to a vacant office lot but I did.  I opened the hood, fully expecting to see some giant cartoon red arrow pointing out the problem with the engine.  Very disappointing when that didn't happen.

I walked over to the 7-11 next door to use the pay phone and started calling everyone I could think of for solutions.  Eventually I was on the phone with Triple A waiting for a tow truck confirmation and I started to feel dizzy.  I'd given blood earlier that day; that in combination with the heat, stress, lack of food must have gotten to me.  Anyway, the call finally ended and I lurched into the convenience store toward the juice cooler.  I tunnel visioned my way to the counter and as I fumbled for coins to pay...I fainted.

After a while the tow truck came and the 7-11 staff retrieved me from the manager's office where I'd been sipping on grapefruit juice and feeling quite stupid.  We took my car to the nearest garage and left it to be worked on.  I walked over to a gas station for cigarettes and remember buying a lighter with the number 24 on it.  I have no affiliations to Jeff Gordon, had no freakin' clue what the number even meant at the time, I just remember the lighter.  Anyway, made my way to the Shoney's next door with my weekend bag and just enough cash for coffee, salad bar and tip.  And I sat and waited for hours for another bridesmaid to pick me up.  And I wondered who I was when I didn't have anything left.

I was in a town I had only driven through before, all out of cash, no vehicle and only the clothes I could carry - who was I when it was just...me?  I didn't feel panic; I wasn't terrified for my safety.  I just was.  And that was enough.

Granted, this event was maybe 5 hours between where I had been and where I was going to be and I had a pretty secure safety net in place so I'm not trying to make comparisons to people forced into deeply desperate circumstances.  But from my fairly sheltered, suburban, sorority girl perspective at the time it was a serious soul-searching experience.

Undomestic Diva posed this question in a post recently:
If you could do ANYTHING, regardless of time or money, what would you do?  And would you still be you?
I haven't come up with an answer for that one yet. 
But I will ask a similar, flip-sided question:

If you didn't have anything; if you weren't anyone's something; if you were just you - who would you be?

And just for kicks...Would you still be you?

4 comments:

Jorja said...

great post silver. i love stories. they tie us all together and remind us that we are all a part of this human experience...far more in common than not. i will ponder your question, especially the way you posed it. have a great weekend. looking forward to nyc.

Silver said...

Thanks, Jorja. Yeah, this is more of an internal, reflective thing. I don't expect a lot of definitive comments here because who we are is something that gets honed over time. I do appreciate the pondering though.

Excited to see everyone at blogapalooza!

Jen O. said...

If I had a do-over of Life? I'd still be me. I'd be me, but super-charged. I'd love harder, I'd work smarter, I'd play more(er?). I'd forget I had near-debilitating self doubt and say "fuck it". I'd take what I've got and make more out of it.

Silver said...

Love that, Jen! Make it so.