I’ve had Barenaked Ladies on the brain recently. The band. Not actual bare-naked ladies.
They’ve been the common theme to my earworms lately. “Pinch Me.” “One Week.” And their new one, “Odds Are.” Because, well, odds are….
You know how sometimes things fall into place in ways that make your intended path in life just absolutely crystal clear? There’s been a lot of that lately, but it seems the fates, or God, or kismet, or whatever you want to call The Great and Powerful Oz of Our Lives (I tend to go with God, personally) are as indecisive as I am lately. Just as I have that clarity that, yes, this is exactly how things are supposed to work, something changes, someone backs out, some kink is thrown into the plot, and I’m left just as aimless as I was before.
The result has been a lot of push and pull, a lot of false starts. I kind of feel like a tether ball recently, whipped around by a couple of insane, ping-pong paddle wielding children dead set on destroying the entire toy store with a tennis ball tied to a string attached to a pole.
Getting back to school is enough of a beast when things are sane. This year, it’s simply been a feat. Earl is in this really weird space in her own brain and body lately, trying to sort out who she is personally and socially. It’s a hard thing to watch, but comforting to know from Jupotato that I was much the same at Earl’s age. I went through all of the mental craziness most kids go through in middle and high school when I was in elementary school. All the kids my age thought I was absolutely batshit. I vividly remember thinking the same thing about them, because thinking it about myself would have meant admitting that, yes, in fact, they were right. The trick with Earl, though, is going to be taking what I know now from where I was when and somehow guiding her through it. Yesterday, that path was laced with mines and nuclear meltdowns and tears, the tears being mostly mine as I have been on edge enough lately that we could be talking about what a beautiful day it is outside and I would have tears streaming down my cheeks FOR NO REASON AT ALL. No lump in my throat, no anxious feeling, just rivers of tears.
I have come to the stark realization that uncontrollable tears and excessive face sweat have doomed me from ever having any normal interactions ever again. Or clients. Or a job. Or new friends.
Although somehow I managed to make a friend, which was unexpected.
Lately with all of these signs and yearnings and gypsy feet pulling me in 15 directions, adding actual people to the mix is dicey. Even people I consider my friends have been keeping their distance because, hi, landmine here. But this year, I’ve made myself a goal that I’m going to walk Earl home from school every day it’s possible. I usually try to get there a bit early so I can claim my spot on what I have come to call “The Anti-Social Curb” and read (Kathy Reichs, of course, if you’re paying any attention the sidebar over on the right). I’ll wave and smile and say hello and exchange niceties, but I try to stay mostly to myself.
Yesterday, however, there was another mom there extra early. After kind of blindly walking around in circles for a moment, she wandered over to me. “I’m sorry, but this is the first time we’ve walked. Do most of the parents stand over there (on the school side of the street) or over here (where my curb is)?”
In my head, I said, “They stand over there if they want to talk. They stand over here if they’re anti-social or have dogs with them, or if they’re just cliquey and don’t like someone standing over there. I sit here to read my books and play with the dogs and wave at people because when I talk to them, the face sweat and verge-of-tears usually turn them off.”
I was braced for the conversation to be awkward and stilted. Instead, before I realized it, the kids were out. We’d laughed and lamented over being big girls trying to run and swapped stories about bubble life and exchanged phone numbers. And she didn’t even snurl at the face sweat! Awesome!
The encounter did one big thing for me, though: It made me realize I’m not really as insane as I feel at times. That, really, despite the crashing tides of whatever it is the universe is trying to tell me, the waves that tend to drown out that sensation of normalcy and even keel, I’ve still got it pretty much under control. We will survive. Odds are, after all, we’re gonna be alright.