Capturing life in words…
I slid the pump handle back into the slot marked 87, and swiped my debit card for the third time. I squinted through my, now prescription glasses (thank you middle age) and stared at the blinking word “Authorizing” and the ellipsis, barely visible through the milky screen. A previous customer, apparently disgruntled, had scratched a curse word into the plastic. The fact the word remained, still legible, indicated either customers had not complained or management was not concerned. Probably both.
Little things like this … stopping at a gas station with a sleepy cashier behind a bullet proof window, where the even gas pumps were tired, could momentarily take me back in time….
The only car I never named was a Chevy. This car lasted longer than my relationships– 13 years. And both were usually running on fumes and prayer. It was a very strange color of blue-green, with air conditioning that gave out in year four, along with the car stereo– both critical to comfort and mood. So I prayed a lot, even then, even before I actually believed in God. I prayed, or talked to myself, especially in my car and for my car. My most fervent prayers were on Thursdays. Prayers and begging mantras of “one more day” to work and home again. It would lurch, rattle, groan… yet, amazingly, never ran out of gas and broke down only three times. This unnamed, hot, car carried me from chaos to calm. It shouldn’t have made it, yet neither should I.
The years with the Chevy were years of great growth and change… one being, I learned gratitude. I now try to take nothing for granted, allowing me to see the many gifts in my most mundane day. As I pumped gas, I noted how freeing it is to breathe easily and not hold my breath, hoping the little screen will show “Approved”. I catch myself often whispering, “Thank you, Father,” as I did a few minutes ago, when approval to move forward in life occurs… whether looking through scratched plexiglass, the results of medical tests, or matters of money. I may grumble, cry or lose grace during the process, yet always underneath, my gratitude remains. Learning gratitude is probably why I was not annoyed it took three attempts for the pump to deliver liquid gold into my gold Toyota. The pump moved as sluggishly as the cashier behind the bullet proof glass. Gratitude and patience go hand in hand. Also, I have wrestled with darker demons than a dysfunctional debit card reader on a sweltering, sunny day on a shady side of town.
For a majority of my life, by IRS standards, I’ve been “Head of the Household” while simultaneously qualifying as “single”, “divorced” with the Census department. Medically I am a “survivor” and had the authorities been notified, I would earn the label “victim” too. The mature woman or inner me, embraces “Survivor and Believer”. I know I have played my part — some more than others. Even the most unskilled clinician could point to my pattern of choosing irresponsible men in my early life. There are a plethora of reasons I made poor choices regarding relationships with men, and dozens of reasons I gave them too much power. Now an educated professional, I could even write an academic paper, properly citing sources and research, explaining how my childhood events, lack of access to resources, blah, blah, blah put me at greater risk for a negative outcome. I had my addiction. Serial monogamy was my drug. Validation my high. The collateral damage was painful. I paid for it by living in poverty for several years. Poverty of my mind, heart, soul and bank account.
Shit! As do many automatic behaviors, especially when paired with relying on other sources to throw you an indicator to STOP, life can get messy as it did just now. The automatic shut-off on the gas nozzle was faulty and the smelly, amber fluid backed up and out, splashing all over my hand and left shoe. When you don’t pay attention, even with one small act, you can get your hands dirty. And it may not be easy to get the smell off.
weekly writing challenge– leave ’em wanting more
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