It wasn’t even one of those days. Today was an okay one: we hit the playground in the morning because it was below 105 degrees Fahrenheit. Then to the gym for a swim, and I was feeling good as triathlete-in-training. The girls and I went home for some PB& Js, some watermelon, some cheese crackers. They watched Barbie Fairytopia while I did laundry, but we read books before I popped in the movie, so I was feeling good as parent. I recruited Jordan to come over close to happy hour (it was approaching 5 p.m.) in order to help finish off the bucket of margaritas that’d been taking up space in the freezer—we accomplished that. Dave came home from work, and we chatted with friends in the courtyard. Not bad for a Monday. Then two things happened: The flat bread pizza we had for dinner started to feel a little wobbly in my stomach (or was it the tequila?), and when I went to stretch out a shrunken shirt I’d mistakenly put in the dryer, I pulled a back muscle so severely I felt it twinge and pop like a busted guitar string. I had to abandon family and go lie down on the floor upstairs, leaving Dave with the girls as they played Musketeers with pointy sticks they’d picked up from a tree flattened by a recent storm.
By 8:55 p.m. when a nice sounding, stuttery young guy called from some pseudo-research center under the guise of seeing what I knew of Maryland politics but really to get me to vote for his candidate, I was tuckered out. Lexi was still awake, whining, actually, from her crib; and when she does that, all things cute vanish and what is left is a crushing desire to scream at the top of my lungs, stifled only by the fact that we live in a townhouse and that noise would carry. By 9:10 p.m. when we got another call, this time from #555-000-0000, the jig was up, and even though this guy sounded even more sincere, even though he asked politely for me to answer just a few questions, even though I said, “No, really, it’s awfully late, please take me off the list,” even though he paused and then said, “Please, M’am,” I hung up on him.
Karma. Someone I don’t know is going to be mean to me tomorrow.
Today at the gym, my girls were running to the childcare room. I was preoccupied and didn’t really think about the fact that my girls may not seem as adorable to another mother who is arriving at the door of the childcare room at approximately the same time. I wasn’t thinking about it at all when I followed my girls into the room and left that mother to wait behind us…until I heard her laugh to herself in disbelief, a little grunt of surprise at my behavior. I quickly signed the girls in and apologized to her on the way out: “I wasn’t thinking,” I said, and she didn’t look at me.
Karma. I may get my ass kicked.
Last Saturday morning I left Dave with the girls so I could go to my favorite spin instructor’s class. Though I have few comparatives, this guy’s the best, I can tell. He motivates. Near the end when we’re all just bone tired, he’ll turn off the lights and yell stuff like, “Why are you here? Who are you riding for?” and I’ll want to sob. I’m physically exhausted but elated when I finish—at peace and ready for a shower and then maybe some ice cream. But my favorite spin instructor (we’ll call him “Bob”) wasn’t there last Saturday. There was a substitute. She was a lot of things, but her biggest problem was that she was not Bob. She also wore a visor and what looked to be a fanny pack. And she divided the room into three sections and made us pick team names and asked us excruciatingly detailed trivia questions about the Tour de France—none of which I knew, which didn’t bother me at all, but her voice did, a little, and her peppiness, and the fact that I was not getting any kind of a workout because she paused so often to flip through tiny pieces of paper to check facts or tally team points with a golf pencil. I was in a Seinfeld episode, and more than once, I bent over my bike far enough to bang my head against the bars. I said out loud to no one, “Is this really happening?” but no one heard me because by the end of class, half of Team USA, ¾ of Team Italy, and several riders from Team South Africa had walked out. I stayed because I felt sorry for her. I also stayed because I knew I’d have something to write about.
I stayed a while in the locker room afterwards because I bumped into a friend and we got to talking about spin instructors, about the greatness of Bob, and of course about the sub. My friend had taken her class earlier in the week, so we were chuckling about the intensity level of the class—how afterwards we felt like we’d gotten off a couch and walked slowly to a refrigerator. Then a moment came when I noticed out of the corner of my eye, a visor. My friend was stuck, literally, half-dressed, but I was fully clothed, and what I did was—I ran. I darted into a bathroom stall like there were hot coals beneath me. I stood facing the toilet, grabbed a piece of toilet paper and rubbed it against my nose, as if to convince myself that I had a purpose for being there, and then I forced myself out of the stall and back onto the hot coals, sputtering something to the smiling visor about answering every question with “Lance Armstrong,” as if I’d never left the conversation. Somehow, at some point, I left the locker room. The drive home was awkward: I was the only one in the car, but I gave myself a talking-to. I mean, the poor sub was doing her best. And what if my friend had actually been in danger? My knee-jerk reaction was to flee. Is that how I would handle things in front of my children? What kind of a person was I?
Karma. In my next life I will be a red-lipped batfish.
Except maybe not. The pimply kid working the deli counter at the supermarket sliced the Lebanon bologna paper thin the other day, but I didn’t complain. He was new at the job, nervous and chatty. Also, I was “live-chatting” with Sankrishna at Snapfish a few nights ago, feeling like I’d really found someone I could count on because we’d gone back and forth at least three times in 30 minutes about an issue with my checkout cart. I had only run downstairs to make a cup of tea and check the Phillies’ score, but when I arrived back at the computer to find that he had signed off because he “hadn’t heard from me” in a while, I didn’t collapse in despair. He was gone, but I understood. He’d found someone else; it was time for him to move on.
People are decent, I do believe it—that guy at Safeway who looked into my cart and said, “Holy Vegetable!” That woman at Starbucks who said I looked good in red. I don’t have a lot of adult interaction these days, so why not make eye-contact with the cashier at Target and ask him about that elbow tattoo? Why not talk the little sports I know with the pretzel guy in front of Home Depot? And why not forgive folks for their bad days. Even if it’s not of those days, we all could use a little forgiving.