It’s 11 PM and it’s not a good neighborhood in Aberdeen but we’re pulled over anyway for a while. Ralph is checking a few bank balances on the phone, and his phone is slooooow. Eventually he figures out that between two accounts, we have $50 – enough to get supplies for Phoenix’s first day of school, and to pick up a few special items for her lunch. While he’s figuring this, though, we’re sitting along a nasty part of town – as in No, Nels, You Can’t Go Outside And Play and while I wait patiently, a raccoon runs in front of our car and into the lights of the convenience store’s frontage. “Heading to Smoke Town,” I say in my raspiest, very-sketchy-raccoon type of voice.
Ralph still has traces of his Rocky Horror makeup on. He’s tired and his hair is spikey and between that and the eyeliner, he looks like a 90’s made-for-TV-movie version of a drug dealer. He’s tired and his temper is short. I guess I’m kind of the same. But I’m not irritated with my husband, or with checking our balance, or with being up late and tired with a sore throat coming on, or with my car at home on “R” and not sure how I’ll get to school to get my daughter tomorrow heck only a little over twelve hours from now.
In fact I’d been thinking of the low gas tank precisely when we set out from our darkened driveway for these late night errands. And I’d felt this total peace come over me and I’d thought of the book of Matthew, Chapter 6: “Don’t worry about tomorrow, because tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day’s evil is enough for the day.” I’d thought of this today while talking to a friend and I’d taken the time to look it up in a book and everything (The Unvarnished Gospels). Yeah, I’ve lived long enough and suffered long enough I know the wisdom in setting worry aside. Or like I told my friend today, who wanted advice on a few matters: “If I thought it was a good idea for you to worry, I’d tell you to worry.” Today yeah, I know this practice is a form of self-absorption, and like all self-absorption, it steals my life. I experience that sublime peace when I know I can just Be Here Now. And I’m feeling that serenity now, in the car, tired, cranky husband and all.
After groceries, apples and olives and juice and a special orange candy treat for our daughter’s lunchpail, we hit Walmart for the school supplies. It is surreal and not in a good way. There is a man arguing loudly with his own appearance on a security camera screen. There are two young men about as high as I’ve ever seen anybody, in the video game section. A family loudly argues at the checkout, seemingly oblivious to their own amped-up energies. The school supply section has been so vigorously raided there is no longer any college-ruled paper sheaves (come to think of it, they were even out of wide-ruled – now that is dire!). But – Ralph and I take care to pick the items we think our daughter – home now asleep – will appreciate. I feel at peace and grateful for my husband, for our little family.
Nels trails along with us – the child, tonight, a bit neglected as Ralph and I are focused on the task at hand. And he’s very patient but he’s still a bit that Lost Child and I have that pang when I feel I’m not being Enough. But then I turn away from that pang, I smile at it a bit because I know I still have time with my son, I’m still here.
I’d promised this child a pizza date with just he and I, on Phoenix’s first day of school. Another to-do item for tomorrow like the gas tank – something I know I can figure out when the time comes because I know I’m supported by the Universe.
It’s a good life, Times One Million.
& NOW – impressively large quantities of hominy. Nels asks me what it is. “It’s like corn. But gross.”