“Wear the world as a loose garment, which touches us in a few places and there lightly” (Attributed to St. Francis of Assisi)
October 31, 2014 Leave a comment
The other day walking to my car after tutoring I thought, “Life—that is, life in society—is a swamp. It’s easy to get sucked in and impossible to get out.” I want to live the last few years of my life not getting sucked in.
I should stop there.
Recently I was walking from my apartment across the acres of parking for Parkland Hospital employees to the DART train. I was talking on my smartphone, telling the voicemail of one of the people I depend on for sanity about the horrible afternoon I’d had. The day had been difficult. I was feeling that combination of anger, depression, and terror that, well, terrifies me.
Earlier I had had to drive home from tutoring in an emotional state in which I should not have been driving. Part of my depression and anger had resulted from spending most of the day dissociated and having a difficult time with everything I tried to do. I know better than to drive when I’m angry in that fearful way. My reactions to events are not “road rage.” My reactions start well before I get into my car. They are anger born of fear. Fear of myself, of my brain. Both my neurologist and my psychiatrist want me to stop driving altogether (and so do I).
My terror that day has already cost me $654.31, the amount I paid to have the damage I caused to Moise’s truck repaired. I don’t know yet how much the repairs for my car will cost. At least the amount of my deductible for collision insurance, it’s obvious. I won’t describe what I did. Suffice it to say I would not have done it if I had not been angry and frightened all day. You can call it “road rage” if you want, but it was much more complicated than that (and I wonder how many such incidents are).
As I was walking across the parking lot crying into my smartphone, I was vaguely aware that someone was walking beside me—unusual there. I turned. The person was black and taller than I, a man (I’m pretty sure). His (her) hair was long and straight. I’m pretty sure it was a wig. The person was dressed in a white shirt with ruffles for the collar and down the front and a sparkly white mini-skirt and black pumps with perhaps one-inch heels. He (she) said nothing but tried to get my attention by holding what appeared to be a newspaper clipping toward me and pointing at it.
Intent on finishing my (anguished?) message, I said, “Please don’t bother me,” and waved him away. He ducked through an opening in the fence and walked faster than I on the other side.
Confused but curious, I called to him that I was finished talking and would like to know what he wanted of me. He did not speak (at all during our encounter). He turned to walk away, and I said I wanted to apologize for reacting so unkindly to him. He looked at me in—I think—fear and walked quickly the other way.
The “incident” has bugged me for more than a week. I wonder who she is and what she wanted of me. Meeting anyone in that vast expanse of concrete and cars is unusual. But a tall black elegantly (if strangely) dressed drag queen?
“The Tin Room” is around the corner. A wild gay bar. I reasoned that a drag queen might be on her way to the bar. At 5 PM? OK. Why didn’t she speak? Was the newspaper clipping an ad for the Tin Room from the Dallas Voice? Was she unable to speak and simply wanted to know where the bar was? Did she think I looked like a safe old man (or an old queen myself)?
In the most nearly complete and revised of my three unfinished novels, a flamboyant (is there any other kind?) black drag queen is a voice of reason and hope for the protagonist. And is murdered in a violent hate crime. I know something about drag queens.
I’m haunted by the sight of her hurrying away from me in fear. She probably knows fear—on many levels—the likes of which I can only imagine. Fear of others. A fear I do not know. My fears are created, as they say in AA, “between my own two ears.” Her fears (at least some of them) originate outside herself. A black, deaf, drag queen?
I’m not a fearsome person. Really. Pretty meek and mild. Except when I have taken on my life as a coat of mail rather than a light garment.
Life is not really a swamp. But my mind can be.
I wonder if I have enough time left to learn that even a day of dissociation and fear and the resulting anger is not worth either damaging my car or being unkind to a (deaf?) drag queen looking for directions.