Waiting in Line

Monday was a bad day.

A bad, lousy, sad, intense day.

Gus

Our dear friend/neighbor called me in the morning to tell me
that her dog, Gus—our god doggy—was very sick and that it was going to be his
last day with us.  We cried together on
the phone. I felt helpless—me at work, her at home—but she had her human best
friend there with her and I knew she wouldn’t be alone.

On my lunch break, I went shopping for a baby gift for a
coworker whose shower was yesterday.  While
perusing aisles of baby cuteness, I ran into two girls from my office.  One said, “Did you hear that someone bombed
the Boston Marathon?” My jaw dropped.

I went back to the office feeling defeated.  Gus was dying.  People were dying.  Lives were being turned upside down all
around me. 

I left work and prepared myself for the inevitable Los
Angeles Rush Hour.

While waiting for the signal to change so that I could turn
onto the freeway on-ramp, I had a revelation, and started composing a blog
entry in my head.  (This is a sign to
myself that I really am getting back into the blogging game.)

I thought about cars. 
How they are like protective shells that hide us from the world.  They provide us with anonymity.  They muffle our voices.  They keep the outside out and the inside in.

Maybe that’s the problem with rush hour.  Maybe we have too much anonymity.  Maybe we are too safe in our bubbles of glass
and steel.

Maybe we should all approach rush hour as if we are standing
in line for something wonderful.

When we stand in line, we don’t cut people off, flip people
off, or honk our horns.  We know that the
line is simply a means to an end.  We may
get tired of standing in line, but we don’t swerve out of line and cut in front
of someone ten people ahead of us just because we’re impatient.  We may WANT to, but we exercise common decency
and self control and we stand as patiently as possible right where we are.

It’s not that hard.  Except when it is.

As I was merging onto the freeway, a guy in a Porche decided
to cut in line. He swerved into the shoulder and cut me off right as I was
accelerating onto the freeway so that I had to slam on my breaks and everything
in my car went flying.

I reacted in the least graceful way I possibly could.  I laid on my horn and flipped him off.  He slammed on his brakes so that I would have
to slam on mine again.  He honked at
me.  I changed lanes to get away from
him.  He sped up to flip me off and
scream at me.  I returned the gesture and
screamed back.

By the time I got away from Mr. Porche, I was shaking with
anger—that’s when I realized that not thirty seconds earlier, I was creating
this totally Zen approach to the freeway and that in the blink of an eye, I had
blown it.  I had let myself down.

My chin quivered and my eyes filled with tears, and the next
thing I knew, I was sobbing in rush hour. 
Not just tears running down my face crying, but full on heaving sobs.

I cried and I cried for a good ten minutes before I pulled
myself together. I cried for Gus.  I cried for Boston.  I cried because some days, NOTHING seems easy–NOTHING seems fair.  By the time I reached my offramp, I was drained.  Drained of tears, drained of energy, and
feeling like I wanted to just collapse into Catch’s arms and never leave the
house again.

Of course, it’s not that simple.  We can’t just hide from humanity.  We can’t even hide from ourselves.  The evening went on.  We went out for dinner.  We comforted Gus’ mom for a few hours.  We carried on.

Sometimes, that’s the best we can do.

Today though, I am going to try to stand in line on the
freeway like I’m waiting for my favorite ride at Disneyland.  Home is my happiest place on earth.  The journey to get there deserves at least as
much enthusiasm as the line for Pirates of the Caribbean.

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