Ordinary Business with a side of grief

My finger is bleeding; I’m cold and frustrated, and now I’m crying.  Time to go inside and figure out what’s going on with me.

I still have occasional melt downs.  I am still grieving.

Today I went to the Wisconsin DMV to get a new driver’s license, car registration, title and license plates.  I am not exactly timely in getting this bit of business done, and I still have to figure out what to do with the other car that is in Chicago with my daughter.  I don’t relish going into “the system”.  I often feel stupid, pushed around, ripped off and helpless.  I try to do my homework and come prepared.  I cannot tell a lie and haven’t figured out how to find justifiable loop holes to save myself some money.  Steve says that I think in black and white, which is why the system loves me.  Fine.  I suppose that’s my personality, and I don’t think it’s so bad.  I will never be a shrewd iconoclast.  I’ll leave that to someone else.  I figure I did okay getting out in 30 minutes with new plates, a new title, and a new (temp) driver’s license.  I was kind of proud of myself for a moment for jumping through this hurdle.  I got home and updated my insurance info online and then went out with a screwdriver and the plates to do the swap.  The back plates are held on by a hexagonal bolt.  Fine.  I went to get pliers.  Back outside.  I couldn’t budge the thing, and the pliers kept slipping.  Fine.  I’ll go find a socket wrench or something.  I do have a handy array of tools, and I rather like solving problems.  I found a set of wrenches and selected one the right size.  It fit on the bolt, but I still couldn’t move it.  I needed more force, so I went back inside to find a hammer.  With the hammer, I decided to be more aggressive.  I wanted to move this stubborn bolt, but the rust resisted.  My knuckle scraped against the plate and started bleeding.  Fine.  I’ll go inside and wash my hand and find some gloves.  Back outside.  Final attempt, nothing’s budging, I’m cold and ILLINOIS is staring me in the face.  “This is Jim’s car,” pops into my head, my nose starts burning and suddenly, everything is blurry.

If this little operation had gone smoothly, I wouldn’t have thought much about it.  I still play the games inside my head that swing me from “This is no big deal” to “This is something important” and back again.  Denying emotion, repressing the thoughts and feelings that spring unbidden in an ordinary moment. Where is that Middle Way?

This isn’t an emergency.  There’s no need to be anxious, but something notable is happening.  I want to slow down and pay attention.  I am thinking of Jim, and I am sad.  I miss the way he took care of all kinds of “system business” smoothly and happily.  Knocking away at his plates with my hammer makes me feel like I’m dismantling something precious, and I don’t want it to be taken apart.  I can’t preserve everything, of course.  What can I keep?  I don’t need the plates.  I appreciate the car.  I want always to have the love.  I wish I could hang on to the security.

And that’s what it is all about.

I am grateful to have a partner who provides a safe, warm place for me to talk about this and arms to encircle me and fingers that can open a package of Band-Aids when I’m trembling.

One thought on “Ordinary Business with a side of grief

  1. Oh honey, it’s been that kind of a week here too. I was rear-ended on the bay bridge on Saturday. No one was hurt, but my bumper got smashed and the back end of my car was pushed in so far that my trunk doesn’t close anymore. That means insurance claims, repairs, big-time systems business. Then yesterday I went down to the courthouse for the second time with all the changes to my file that the last lawyer told me I needed. Another lawyer took a look and said there could be some problems. I got pretty tense and frustrated, intimidated by THE LAW and its minutia. However, the papers were all filed and now I just have to wait to see how the judge responds. If all goes well, the divorce will be final by the end of the year. Worst case, more systems business, more money, more time taken off work. None of that takes anything away from the essential me, but I was ready for meltdown just the same.

    I walked to the top of Golden Gate Heights, thinking to find a lonesome natural spot to have my cry, but as I climbed and looked out over the city and out to the horizon over the Pacific, I felt the strength of my essential nature take over and reassure me that I am bigger than all these petty systems problems.

    When I read your story, it struck me as one of accomplishment despite the grief. In & out of the DMV in 30 minutes!!! Congratulations! Also, this is the second time I read in your blog about how you like to fix things. I admire that kind of handiness. JS was handy and had a tool for just about everything. DWR, a sculptor & ceramicist, has a second nature for how things go together. I am not at all mechanically minded or even very practical. The only tools I own are pliers, a hammer, a screwdriver, a box-cutter and a couple of Swiss army knives, though I don’t know if I’ve ever actually used them all. When things break, I ignore them and improvise without. My car was broken into a couple years ago, and I never bothered to get the lock fixed. I just stopped locking my car doors.

    You are very capable. Security is illusory yet your essential self is impervious to harm. When emotions move like thoughts, flickering as images on your mind/body screen, then there is no need to repress them because you know they don’t last very long. It’s good that you pay attention to where they get stuck and work to loosen them, just as you would attend to thoughts that fall into a rut. And sometimes hugs are like WD-40 on recalcitrant heart bolts. I’m glad you have that balm.

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