Art begins with resistance – at the point where the resistance is overcome. No human masterpiece has ever been created without great labor. – Andre Gide
Confession: It is 3 pm and I’ve opened a bottle of wine.
I’m not a big drinker, for obvious reasons. I’m a nurse, I like my liver, and that liver is already working overtime to deal with Sprycel.
You know, the drug that’s saving my life.
But, occasionally, I have a glass of wine. Red, white, I’ll even have a – decent – glass of rose. Just one. With friends. On a Friday. To beef about an erhm, interesting week.
My feet are wet. My eyes are propped open with toothpicks. My fingers are freezing.
I am trying to bring said fingers back to life by typing.
(So far, I’ve had to rewrite these 150 words three times, so I’m not sure it’s working.)
Six hours ago, the girls and I exited the opthamologist’s office. I pulled out my phone to call Daddy. Big news: Noelle needs new glasses.
But I didn’t even get to tell him the big news. Hands-free headset in – because, come on, people, I know the rules – I back out of my parking stall and –
There’s something wrong with the car, hon.
David laughs in my headset. You’re not serious.
We’d just had work done on it – last week. We’d also put off work due on the other car, because we wanted to use that $1000 for like, food, and savings and, other stuff.
So this is our only car.
I’m serious, I tell him. It’s like a flat tire or something.
I get out of the car and circle the perimeter. All the tires look fine. I try the eternal techie-fix-it (translated: restart). I turn off the car, wait five minutes, and start again. I pull out. For a moment, everything’s smooth.
Elliana claps and squeals from the back seat. You fixed it, Mom!
I try to pull the car forward. It goes, sort of. But it drags. Or skids. Or…
Confession: I know nothing about cars. Literally. I always tell myself I’m going to learn. Then something comes along. Like homeschooling. Or work. Or laundry. Or home renos.
It could be that I don’t get cars. It could be that I don’t care.
It could be that my dad was so into cars and so good at fixing them that I got used to having a personal mechanic.
That mechanic’s been in heaven almost ten years, and I’m still stupid about cars. But I know one thing about this situation: this car wasn’t going anywhere.
Also, I was in Surrey.
For those of you not from the Fraser Valley, Surrey is an… interesting place. It’s weird. It’s creepy. It sprawls with angry, busy people. Most are angry they’re there; the others are busy getting out. (or is this just the Abbotsfordia in me talking?) I get the angry; I get the busy. So I try to sympathize.
Today, I had no sympathy.
I’d had – oh, two hours of sleep – good sleep, that is. I’d had a week of heavy, sick, and tired. Heavy about people I care about. Sick from my third sinus infection in three months. Tired from school, the busy part of my work rotation, and the prep for a big thing I’d been asked to do this week. That thing was last night. It was exhausting, thrilling, and all kinds of awesome. I’d stayed up late to talk to the people there.
I’d told myself I’d recover today.
By noon I stood in a cramped parking lot, waiting for BCAA with two hungry, scared, confused kids.
In the rain.
In very cold rain.
An hour’s drive from home.
With no other working car.
This is like a nightmare, Mom.
That’s Noelle. She’s my resident drama queen. She writes excellent novels. (You would love her work-in-progress, The Princesses in the Name of London, a story of two princess detectives who find a baby and return it to the rightful parents.)
Did I mention she’s only six?
Confession: I’m a proud momma.
Another confession: I know exactly where she gets the drama queen thing from.
This was the last thing I needed today, I cried to David over the phone. I need to be home in bed.
Behind me, I hear:
I just want it to be over, Mom.
Some days you just want to be over.
Perhaps it’s the low-grade fever-induced delirium. Perhaps it’s the first bites of Tim Horton’s awesomely hot chili on a not-so-awesomely wet day. Perhaps it’s Noelle saying the word nightmare over and over.
But that moment, as I stare out the window at my grounded little black car and dream about my bed, the pieces started to come together.
It wasn’t really that big of a deal.
It could have been so much worse.
We could have stalled in the middle of the freeway. We could have been at the side of the road. We could have listened to our growling tummies with no Tim Horton’s in sight. We could have been stuck outside in the cold, wet day without warm coats or shoes.
We could have been unable to afford the lunch we ate out.
But Mom, Noelle whines, I just want to go home.
Me too, girl. But… at least we have a home to go to.
I see a BCAA truck in my peripheral vision. He pulls up to my car, pauses, then keeps going.
Oh, for the love of… No. (*@#$#@*(&$ Way.
I run across the street with two free-radicals in tow and hail the driver.
Sorry, Ma’am, I can’t help you. I’m looking for a car with a flat tire.
Yeah, that’s me. Except I’m not sure it’s a flat tire.
I tell the guy my long, bizarre, hazy, detailed story. He watches me try to pull the car out of its stall. Then he tries to pull it out. We both get out and circle the car. He scratches his head, puzzled.
Your e-brake’s jammed.
I watch him move the car. Three wheels turn. The fourth refuses to do anything but skid.
I listen to his long speech how bad it is and how much hassle it will be and how much it will cost you.
But all I hear is how good it is and how easy it is and how little it will cost me.
I need cash – I look up to see a branch of our bank across the street. I need a place to wait – I realize I’m still in our doctor’s office complex, with a warm, dry, fun waiting room full of toys. My phone is dead – I realize I’d miraculously remembered to pack my charger. I need a car to come get me – a friend is around to let David borrow his.
I flick back to that moment in Tim Hortons and I grasp the words behind the pieces that came together.
I could wish this to be over, or I could overcome this.
Sometimes, our e-brakes jam; we treat hiccups like emergencies because we’re stuck in
Every day we are given things to handle, and every day we are given ways to handle it. We can wish them to be over, or
We can overcome.
Of course, that was the very thing I’d been thinking about all week as I’d prepped for that big thing. It was the very thing I’d told everyone at that big thing.
And it was the very thing I was forced to practice today.
Just a tidbit for you:
When sharing something exciting you’ve learned with other people, expect to be tested on it the very next day.
I didn’t pass the test; not right away, anyways. It took several hours – and many friends’ pep talks – to be able to say,
It’s not that big a deal,
We. Can. Overcome.
Even broken cars and cold weather. Even hungry tummies and whiny school-aged kids. Even bank accounts that hold less than we want them to.
So the next time you’re given something you just wish to be over, know you have another option, if you want it.
Little minds are subdued by misfortunes; great minds rise above them. – Washington Irving
It doesn’t have to be over.
It can be overcome.