I have this weird feeling someone is going to stab me. Not like the fun sort of playful stabbing my brother did to my hand outside a Jack in the Box either. I’m thinking it’s going to be a real plunging dagger frightful scream sort of stabbing. It’ll be the kind of stabbing that will mark the second half of my memoirs starting, get the reader going “oh wowzer, that was quite the climactic knifening” before they read about the latter half of my life which will, undoubtedly, be characterized mostly by grading papers and taking naps while my tea gets cold.
However, I haven’t been stabbed yet. Not really. So I have to characterize my life based on the other great tests of my character. What has happened to me to really see if I’m up to sticking around a while longer? In my life, what has happened that a high school English teacher might call the “trials and tribulations” part of the Hero’s Journey. Everyone else would just say sometimes my life was shitty, but we can get more specific.
This isn’t about all the difficulty that has made me the highly functioning trash-fire I am today. It’s just one little instance that probably doesn’t deserve all the time and gravity I’m giving it but now, right after it happened, feels like the most difficult leg of my existence.
I sat in a car for 15 hours.
I’ve been away on my first actual vacation in years, and coming back from that required sitting in a car for about ⅔ of a day. That meant watching a thousand miles of the world go by while I sat in a neat pool sweat systematically losing feeling in each of my limbs while all the blood in my body pooled in my feet and butt.
For all the same reasons that it took me a week to walk to the end of a small road, watching that much of the world go by was torture: I like lingering over details. Every morning, I went out for a little walk to pick berries and lounge by the river and take pictures of plants I hadn’t seen since I was a kid. It also happens that every time I did this, I wouldn’t make it very far because there was just so much to see, so many new little things to look at and enjoy. I’m very familiar with a half-mile stretch of the Sacramento River now. And I’m painfully unfamiliar with about 800 miles of the rest of California because I had to watch it all race by.
After sitting in a car slowly losing feeling in every part of my body while watching so many interesting parts of the world go by entirely unexplored, I feel weirdly invigorated about any new unfortunate things that are coming my way.
I can sit through any work meeting now. My body has decayed in place for longer than it takes to watch the extended editions of Lord of the Rings. I am ready for pointless deliberation over minute details of things I don’t care about.
I saw dozens of orchards that I didn’t have the chance to walk through while idly eating whatever fruits or nuts fell on me as I went. I can deal with the constant feeling that I’m not doing my best after seeing all that potential die.
Between the restaurants, gas stations, truck stops, casinos, and well-equipped fruit stands, I saw hundreds of bathrooms fade into the distance while my body wondered if it would turn on me. I can get through a workday, even if I’ve had more tea that my bladder would like.
I survived the Great Sitting of 2018. I can do anything.