People like to tell me I am very positive, upbeat, happy despite it all. I always think to myself “what other choice do I have?” I mean, I guess I could be a miserable, negative bitch who only sees the bad in this life. I suppose that is an option. Maybe I could whine and complain about the way life has kicked me around. But that wouldn’t change anything. That wouldn’t bring back the people I love or protect the people I love or ensure bright futures for the people I love. I choose option A, which is to take what I am given and be grateful, be happy, see the glass as half full….no matter what the glass is half full of.
My BFF called yesterday to tell me she found a letter I had written to her when she was living the single girl life in NYC and I was living the all american dream in upstate ny. I had a house, a husband, a pre-schooler and a baby. In the letter I was telling her about my life thus far. I am sure it sounded just fascinating to her at the time…..
Back then, for fun, my husband and I would pack up the kids and go for a drive in our 1984 Volvo station wagon. Sounds all sorts of upper middle class I know, but actually, everything on it was broken. It was 1999 and that car had been to the party. Anyway, we would hop in the car and just drive. For hours and miles. Never having a destination in mind, always taking the back roads and stopping at any cool place we could find.
Once we found the most spectacular monastery and church deep in the woods and high on a hill just in time for a beautiful service in the round cathedral. Another time we “found” Pennsylvania accidentally. And yet another time we found ourselves in Albany, our state capital. Now, we were broke because we were young and house poor.So, many times we would find gas stations that served sandwiches and charge our lunch to the gas card. Beacons of common sense we were not.This particular road trip when we stopped for gas, we were dismayed to discover that the gas card was maxed out. Ut oh. We had no gas and 4 hungry humans about 2 and a half hours from home. For my next trick, ladies and gentlemen, I will now perform the Bouncing Check. Watch closely as we drive around to three, count ’em THREE different grocery stores and cash checks for the amount allowed so as to gather cash, get gas and feed the family….
I know, I amazed myself with this one because we had never formally been to Albany before and we had NO idea where the grocery stores even were!! Imagine, this was before GPS, or internet on the cell phone…we were doing this bare handed and without a net!! Impressive. Anyway, after this amazing feat of gathering money, we set out to find a public park to eat and enjoy the beautiful fall day. I was grateful at the time to have been able to find the groceries that cashed checks, I didn’t even know to be grateful for the fact that the stores wouldn’t know about my actual lack of funds till the following day. I couldn’t do that trick today because everything is processed in real-time. The pit falls of an instant society…
We drove all over Albany looking for a place to park and eat. The longer we drove the crankier we became. After about an hour of looking, as the baby started up with her hungry scream, which always made me sweat, I said “just pull over here!!!” And we did. I unloaded the kids and the food onto the grass, not taking much notice of exactly where we were. I saw grass and a place to park and that was good enough for me! As we began to eat our late lunch and I began to nurse the baby, I finally slowed down enough to take in our surroundings.
We were having a lovely picnic lunch in the middle of a development. We were on a strip of grass in between two streets of houses. You know the kind that the developers put there simply to separate the streets. A narrow strip of grass not intended for picnicking families. I brought up this fact to my husband and we started laughing so hard we couldn’t finish our lunch. About that time, a man came out of the house directly across from us, gave us a funny look and began to mow his lawn, which made us laugh even harder. The kids started to laugh and next thing we know, we all have to pee. Like NOW!!! There is no “hold it” when it comes to a laughing 4-year-old. There is also no tree in the strip of grass. Again, making do with what we have, I open the car door and position her so that she doesn’t pee on herself or me, laughing hysterically as I do. It doesn’t get better that this, I think to myself.
I wish I was one of the families watching this from their house. I would have died laughing. Or maybe called the police….but after our picnic and bathroom break, we piled back in the car and headed home….
I know the kids don’t remember this trip to the state capital but I will never forget it. Granted, it wasn’t your average trip, but we weren’t your average family by any stretch of the imagination. But really, in that situation, what choice did I really have but to laugh? What was I going to do? Have a panic attack? Cry? Get angry? Over what? I have faith that no matter what or where, we will be taken care of. And we are. 3 years after that, and one more baby in tow, we decided to drive to Ithaca and go hiking in November, with no coats. Common sense was still eluding me at that point. Half way into one of the most beautiful state parks in upstate NY, it began to hail and snow. I used what I had to keep us warm and we laughed all the way back to the car at our luck and our stupidity. Maybe if we hadn’t been laughing so hard at the hail we would have realized we were lost, and avoided The Losing of the Shoe and The Pricker Bush Escapade of 2004.
The glass maybe half full of farts but who doesn’t laugh at a fart?