Some days are rubies. Some days are just rough.
Today was just rough.
My house is ripped apart in preparation for getting it ready to sell. The bathroom I wanted fixed up for ten years is finally getting fixed up. Too bad I won’t be living in the house to enjoy it.
Can’t find the iron. Can’t find my purse. Can’t find my keys. Trip over the dog. Trip over the cat. Thank god for the coffee.
I put the car in gear, boot it up the hairpin hill and hit the Pat Bay highway into the city before I remember my vow to breathe deeply. Just breathe. Who sings that song anyway?
Inhaling caffeine, exhaling stress, I turn on the French station even though I don’t know much French. Listening to people talk in a language I mostly can’t understand is oddly soothing. Everything sounds better in French. In seconds, I am on the Boulevard Saint-Germain, remembering that springtime in Paris two years ago. C’est la vie.
The highway is unusually busy. I slide into the fast lane and lean back in my seat. I have a zillion deadlines looming. What if my client doesn’t like the web text I wrote? What if we sell our house and can’t find another one we like? What if I’m late for work? What if I just can’t go faster than I’m going? No, I can do this. I can.
Up ahead in the distance, I see multiple police lights. Accident? I slow down. All the traffic slows down. A kid in the car in front of me sticks out his tongue at me. I stick mine out at him. The cop car in my rear view mirror speeds up. Must be trying to get to the accident scene. I hope no one is hurt.
The cop turns on his lights. I try to edge over to let him pass.
He turns on his siren. I edge over further.
Then he’s right behind me and signaling me over onto the grass boulevard that divides the northbound and southbound lanes. I can feel my car shaking as the traffic thunders by. I edge over onto the side and he’s out of his car before I can put it in Park. “Pull over, pull over more. That’s no place to stop on a busy highway….”
“Sorry, I didn’t know you were pulling me over…why are you pulling me over?”
“You were going 105 km in a 95 km zone.”
Ok. So was everyone else. Don’t argue with him. Don’t argue.
I pull right up onto the grass and he’s back at my window. “Driver’s license, please.”
And then I remember. The piece of paper. The driver’s license renewal. Oh. Crap. I hand him my license, holding my breath. Breathe, just breathe. Damned that song. Who sings that song anyway? The cop is at my window. He has a beard and reddish hair. He looks mad. “Did you have a birthday recently?”
I’m caught. I’m caught. I’m caught. “Uh, yes.”
“Your license has expired. And there’s a fine for driving with an expired license.”
Breathe. Breathe. Breathe.
And then it happens. The thing you vow you will never do. The worst, most clichéd action — the thing that a woman who spends her days in boardrooms is trained to never-ever-never-ever do.
I begin to cry.
Yup, with the bearded cop standing there at my window and the traffic whizzing by on both sides of me. Tears begin rolling down my cheeks and my nose stuffs up.
“I’m sorry,” I tell the copper, wiping my hand furiously across my face. “I don’t know what’s the matter with me. It’s just a bad day. A bad, bad day. And this is just one more bloody thing on top of EVERY OTHER BLOODY THING.”
He gives me that “Oh, for Pete’s sake” look some men give when they are faced with a crying woman. And I am crying — I’m not faking it. From the corner of my eye, I see his body posture soften ever so slightly. He sighs. Then he disappears back to his cruiser to run my plate.
Five minutes and many tears of mine later, the copper is back. “Well, I ran your plate and you’re not exactly a speed demon.”
“I’ve only ever had one other speeding ticket in my life,” I tell him with a sob. “I’ve never been arrested for anything.”
He shifts from one foot to another. I wipe my eyes and take a deep breath. “I’m ok. I’m ok.”
“I could give you the maximum speeding ticket,” he says. “That’s $190. And there’s a fine, not a small one, for not having a valid license…”
He pauses. I hiccup.
“But I’m going to reduce the speeding ticket to $135 and I’ll waive the fine for the license. Is there someone you can call? You’ll have to leave your car here until you get your license renewed.”
“You’re an angel, sort of,” I say. And I sort of mean it.
He hands me the ticket and then walks into the middle of the road, stops traffic and waves me over to park on the other side, closer to the service road. A TV crew is watching from the grassy medium. Crap again.
I park on the other side of the highway and sit there wondering what just happened to me. I never cry. Not about things like this. Tears are reserved for pain. For betrayal. For death. When I lost my Mom I was annoyed that the cleansing of tears wouldn’t come no matter how terrible I felt. Now, here they were. Unexpected. Unwelcome.
Breathe, just breathe. Oh, shut up.
I get out of my car and in my high heels and skirt I wade through the damp grass toward the service road. People in their cars look at me as they pass by, glad they are not me.
I wish I were not me at this moment.
Sitting in McDonald’s, waiting for my husband, it occurs to me that there is a message in this whole episode for me. Some people make necessary changes in their lives with just a nudge. Some people need a push. Some need a kick. Me, I guess nothing short of the law could have made me slow down.
Maybe, just maybe, this is the universe’s way of telling me that my life is out of control. That I need to pause. To take stock. To get centered and figure out what’s really meaningful.
Maybe it’s telling me to breathe. Just breathe.
“Blue Streak” Jetta Girl @ Flickr.com. Creative Commons. Some rights reserved.
“A Car Chase in My Mind” littlegraypixel @flickr.com. Creative Commons. Some rights reserved.
“Sunshine Stop Sign” vivere libero @ flickr.com. Creative Commons. Some rights reserved.
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