Tuesday, September 11

something so right

There are only two options when life hands you any difficult set of circumstances. On one hand you can fall apart, you can give up and wallow in a place of sadness and pity. On the other, you can find the brightness and a reason to smile (even through tears).

Generally, I tend to be a wallower - feeling sorry for myself, feeling like life has handed me a shitty hand simply feels comfortable. It is my wall, it protects me. It is an infuriating trait that I have very thankfully been growing out of for years - but when things get rough I tend to revert. I get whiny and sarcastic - oh and it is all about me... me and my problems and the difficult work of laying blame.

As our adventure began:


Some wallowing is allowed in every one's life, every once in a while life just sucks - and it is alright to say so. But life isn't awful all the time, it isn't even awful most of the time, and generally I think it would be best to conserve my self-pity for the times it is warranted. I was handed just such an opportunity yesterday. First I accidentally threw my nearly new digital camera onto a public bathroom floor - rendering it useless on the final day of my trip home. Informed by the clerk of the repair shop that it would not be worth fixing I found myself in a place of pity.

I cried, I felt like an idiot for breaking my camera, I chided myself for not being responsible, I scolded myself for thinking I was worthy of owning something so nice, I tried to will time to reverse so that I could change the outcome.

After pulling myself together and deciding to wallow in the privacy of my parent's home I headed to a store to get bus fare. I willfully ignored the bright pink sign stating that the store did not make change for transit and sweetly asked if I could please get my change back in bus-fare friendly bits. The woman behind the counter, who undoubtedly hears this all the time, pointed out the sign and very sternly explained to me that no, she would not make change. I was still in pity mode and was feeling attacked - my response was to try and escape - but not until I had made the required change by buying something else. I muttered about having a bad day and her not needing to be a bitch considering I was solving the problem. She yelled angrily behind me as I left the store.

I put my small clutch inside my large diaper bag and I stood outside another shop's window and had a good cry. I pulled myself together again and walked to the transit platform.

When I arrived I went to get my small clutch out of my large diaper bag and it was gone. I muttered many things under my breath and walked back towards the mall - feeling very beaten-down. I called Andrew as I entered the air-conditioning and told him I had lost my purse. With him talking me down I walked back to the place I had gotten change and asked the woman if she had seen my purse. She said no, she said she had seen me put it inside my bag, she asked me if I was sure it was missing, uncertain and hopeful, I dumped out my purse on her lotto table and verified once again that it was not there. She checked the candy bars, in case I had dropped it, all the while saying she had seen me put it in my bag. Through my head ran the following scenario:
I am stuck in Calgary without identification or access to money. I can not board a plane home until I have proper ID for both Sebastian and I. I am 35 weeks pregnant. I am going to end up stranded in Calgary and giving birth in a hospital surrounded by strangers. I am not going to be able to fly home for six weeks (because waiting for ID would take more than a week, by which point they would not let me fly, and once the baby is born it can not fly until it is 7 days old - I may have been hysterical, but I could do math). My whole world was falling apart.

So I snapped at this woman, who I am now sure was just trying to help, but felt like an insidious leech sucking my remaining goodwill. She snapped back at me, I gained the attention of pretty much everyone on every floor of the mall while I had a total meltdown. Security was called, a very bored-looking bloke took my statement and information - he told me not to hold out hope, that wallets usually get tossed and that I probably would never see it again.

Realising he was right, I pulled myself together again. I started asking mall staff if they had seen my wallet, on the off-chance someone picked it up and turned it in. Suddenly this man came up to me and handed me money - he wanted to make sure I got where I needed to go safely. I fell apart.

Meanwhile, Andrew was on hold with Air Canada to find out what I would need to do. I headed to a bank branch on the off-chance they could give me a new bank card. They did. By the time I had finished there Andrew had found out that if we had a police report regarding the lost or stolen identification we could board the airplane. So we walked to where I thought the police station was, then walked to where the police station *actually* was.* I told the inconvenienced-looking young officer that I wouldn't normally bother reporting my wallet, but that the report was necessary. He understood and morphed into a very helpful and sympathetic guy.

As I filled out my reports, I overheard a distraught woman try and get in touch with someone on in vice whom she felt she had developed a relationship. The police were pretty cop-like, not asses, but cold, factual and detached. I felt sorry for her and I wondered, not for the first time that afternoon, why I thought my trauma was so all-important. I completed the report as quickly and concisely as I could. I thanked every deity that I was still alive, still healthy, still in the presence of a toddler who's boredom could be overcome with simple toys and healthy snacks.

I thanked them all that I could fly home, that I had a clean, safe and loving home to fly home to, I thanked them for the lives around me, for the life inside me.

By this point it was rush hour, I was determined to get back to my parent's place and shed my sweaty clothes and relax. We waited 20 minutes for a train that was "empty" enough that we could all board. A woman I shared the platform with cleared us a path. As we'd waited she had told me stories about her many children, her job, and life. On the train another woman pulled Sebastian's stroller in tight to her body to give me and the belly a little more room. Every time I apologised she would give me that "oh please" look and tell me to stop worrying so much. She assured me that I wasn't in the way and that everything was fine.

I got home and excitedly told my story to my step-father, still full of pity - but also a hint of humour and hope. When my mother got home I told her the story too. We had dinner and discussed the petty crime that comes with a booming economy, we talked about my luck in still being able to fly the next morning, we talked about other things and enjoyed our meal.

After dinner my step-father informed me he would be replacing my camera, had already priced them online and that we should do it immediately. He has this really funny little soft spot and I know that in telling my story the part that still hurt the most was losing my camera. This is a man who I compared to an ogre in childhood and through adolescence, whose kindness I have very rarely glimpsed (though I am always assured it exists). This is a man with whom I have butted heads for most of my life.

This morning we left the house at 6:00am. The sweetest image was of my step-father carrying my son downstairs, neither are morning people, but both were smiling widely. I felt so blessed in that moment, in the house I had grown up in, surrounded by the family I had once known as my own, having survived (nearly) a week. Not just survived. I enjoyed myself. I learned a lot. I re-centred. I was spoiled. I saw my sister as the adult she is becoming, I saw my parents as the people they are, I saw myself in a crystal clear mirror and saw things I didn't like and things I love.

And I got a great haircut. And I saw old friends. And I made a new one. I was inspired and inspiring - our choices to work to be green, to move to a new city, to be a young family were all affirmed. I left feeling like I was doing a pretty good job of life, that my perceived failures and shortcomings were just that - my perceptions.

All in all, a pretty good week.

*I have finally mastered the gmaps pedometer!!

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