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?
See? You forgot me already!
A whispered prayer that we don’t.