The Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day

It began with the car accident.

The parked car in the street, the U-haul ahead, a pick-up truck peeling out of his driveway with less-than-desirable visibility. I swerve, thinking of course I could clear the parked car to my right.

I could not.

I scrawl a note with a sincere apology, my contact information. Scout and Bee watch from car seats – wide-eyed as I bend to pick up a shattered side mirror on the side of the street.

It is not yet 9am.

I call our insurance, speak with an adjuster – apologize profusely when the owner of the parked car calls back. I schedule an estimate. I shuttle the dogs to the groomers, stopping at the grocery store for avocados, bananas, bread. A pint of iced coffee for a post-frenzied-morning treat.

Back home, I fuss with Scout’s car seat and hit the trunk button to hear the distinct sound of a dense plastic bag rolling, overturning, glass and caffeine exploding onto the driveway below.

I unload the remaining groceries – the rest left unscathed – and after I put Scout down for his nap, Bee and I find ourselves back on the driveway picking tiny kaleidoscopes of amber glass and cold brew from the concrete.

What’s with today? she says.

Later, it was the wedding ring.

The loose diamond as I open the refrigerator to look for cabbage, the quiet ping as it scatters across the room, the temporary panic as it skids toward the vent.

I crouch down, find the diamond, slip it with the ring into a Ziploc bag, tuck it in my top vanity drawer.

I’m sorry, I say to Ken.

Later still, a miscommunication, a disagreement left unresolved, a looming decision, a fitful night of sleep. The morning-after feeling when you wake, remembering you’re ringless with a scratch down the side of your van.

What’s with today? I say to no one at all.

We have been living at breakneck speed this month, rejiggering our calendars to compensate for a sickness here, a last-minute deadline there, both on the giving and receiving end of each other’s mistakes, our own. In a misfired attempt to cope with the fullness, I pounded three daily miles on the pavement only to develop a bad case of runner’s knee (oh, if only this were metaphorical).

We knew it was coming, the dropped bottom, although I anticipated far less shards.

It was a bad day, is all. It was one of many, smack dab in the middle of a lot of other people’s bad days, in the midst of a news cycle that spins wild, in the center of a gnashing heard collective.

And this is how I know to start paying attention. This is how I know it’s either going to get good, or it isn’t.

I do not feel better yet, not really. (You?) My soul still feels a little knocked up, wrung out. Still underwater.

But in all of life’s strange-and-graceful meandering, isn’t this what it takes? A few shards to shatter the surface? Your own small, average mishaps swirling under a slew of larger ones to snap you into the realization that this is it? This is what we get?

Just, this – the everyday junk of life. The tiny moments that drive you insane from inconvenience into sheer gratitude for survival in no less than the time it takes to crash a car. The dumb stuff that sends you jumping for joy then brings you to your knees, your daughter picking pieces of glass from your cuticles.

A whole world, waiting for a whole world.

The next thing, then.

A nap. A book. A text to the girlfriends. A short walk, a favor for the neighbor. Catch with Scout. A phone call with my dad.  An emptying of a calendar square for Ken, a filling for me. A water refill. A course correction of the smallest degree.

And this, one of Bee’s famous knock knock jokes:

Will you remember me in a year?
Will you remember me in a month?
Will you remember me in a week?
Knock knock.
Who’s there?
See? You forgot me already!

A whispered prayer that we don’t.

  • Hi Erin, I love reading your posts! I had a miscarriage a little over a week ago (my first pregnancy) and since that moment, every day has felt like this. Like I’m constantly tripping and breaking into a run to avoid the fall. A spilled coffee, banged elbow on the doorframe I didn’t see, a dog that wants desperately to be walked and knocks over my lunch in excitement that I got off the couch. Thank you for constant reminders to be mindful, in the moment and to enjoy the everyday moments. You are truly a gift.

    • Hi Danielle, I don’t know you but I see your words and extend to you all the love I have to offer for your loss.


    • Oh Danielle. I am so, so sorry to hear of your miscarriage. I can only imagine your emotions right now – the unfairness, the unrest, the pain (the pain, the pain, the pain). I’ve whispered a few prayers for you this morning, and just in case you might find it helpful to process alongside the stories of others, this is a lovely community for grieving parents. Sending peace and blessings and light, friend.

  • I have a big suspicion every time I feel like life’s been so good – too good so far. Somehow I have this in my mind that life is a roller coaster ride, and it can’t be just good all the time – as weird as it sounds, I know. And when the rock hit, I keep telling myself that it’s gonna be alright – that this this pass. This is just phase that we need to go through cause we’re alive. And what your wrote in this post really resonates with me. My dad used to say to me that you can’t let one bad day ruin the rest of your 6 days in a week.

    • I love that phrase from your dad – such wisdom. Thank you for sharing this with me, Niken — I, too, have often been waiting for the other shoe to drop. (But then when it does, ha, I lament!)

  • I believe we’re all, collectively, in the hard, messy, scary middle of the fight on our hero’s journey – we must go through this mess and fight for what we want, need and believe, to reach the other side. Some days are better than others. Some news cycles are – scratch that, they all seem to be bad right now so let’s all read a book? And once this flipping eclipse is over and the sun and moon stop screwing with our water-filled human bodies, maybe everything will settle down for a bit. I have to continue to choose light and love or go mad.

    But darn that broken iced coffee!

    • It does seem as though ALL of the news is bad news of late. I think that, at least for the next little while, when the hubs turns on the news in the evening, I’m going to grab a good book and take it with me to the back porch, sit outside, listen to the cicadas and the breeze rustling the leaves in the trees, read a little and watch as the setting sun paints the sky in splendiferous colors.

  • Thank you for writing this post Erin! Soulful, real, honest, and raw. Sometimes I too wonder- what is with this day? Or what is with this week? The past two weeks we have had the car or the ac breakdown, both 2x each in two weeks. And being pregnant and having a toddler with no a/c and no way to get around is rough. But like you said all we get is the everyday junk of life. I tell myself having something to fix- be it a car or a/c is better than having nothing at all..

  • yes, thank you! planning to re-read your book soon, and am hoping that you write another one!! I love reading your perspective on things, big and small. Thank you for reminding us all to slow down!

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