A funny thing happened last night. I was on my way home, driving late at night. Admittedly, I was tired and was forcing myself to stay awake. I was thinking of my gig but was also wondering whether it would be too late to get one more tweet in about my latest blog post. “What Have I Done Since My Divorce.” It’s just some tongue-in-cheek musings about how my life has changed since my divorce became final.
All in all, the divorce date doesn’t really matter. Still, I’ve had to pull out the final decree throughout the year for taxes, banking, other financial matters — you know, when I’ve filled out forms that request documentation of change in marital status. Having just gathered my tax materials I’ve had to gaze upon the piece of paper which legally ended my already dead marriage. And I remember dates, always have — important dates, unimportant dates, dates of good memories — and bad. I remember. It’s a gift . . . and a curse.
It used to really bother my Ex-Husband that I remembered so many anniversaries of events. (I guess that would be the gift part — ha ha). The curse part is that I also recall the cluster of wintertime “Ex Dates” like — our first kiss, when we became a couple, when he told me he was leaving me, when he moved out, and our wedding anniversary, to name a few. So true to my tendency to hoard useless facts today I remembered that this was the anniversary of the day the judge signed off on the divorce. . . and it was on my mind.
For whatever reason, my being tired, the broken side view mirror, a blind spot — I drifted to the right lane too slowly and didn’t see the quickly approaching car behind me. Suddenly, a little black car sped up next to me, too close, forcing me to quickly swerve back over into my lane.
“Okay, now I’m awake.” I said to myself, startled, heart pounding. The little black car was next to me for a few moments. I was expecting him or her hit the horn, cuss me out through a closed window — at least throw an angry look my way. Drivers in my part of the world are not known to be gracious. But the car simply weaved up ahead and I never got a look at the driver. It was dark, the windows were tinted. He or she never even flipped me the bird. I did see the back of the car, though.
Its license plate read: DIVORCE
This time I sped up to catch the little black car to see if I read that correctly. Yes, it said “DIVORCE.”
I exited the highway before the “Divorce-Mobile” did. Though I’ve been known to follow random cars (ask my kids), I was not going to follow that particular vehicle. I’m done with all that divorce stuff, as of one year ago.
Bottom line as to the divorce or the divorce mobile: I didn’t see it coming. It could have killed me. It didn’t. Perhaps it saved me. Regardless, it went on to freak out other people while I took the next exit.
Just Me With . . . life on the highway on the anniversary of my divorce.
Seriously, does anyone else find this an odd coincidence especially given my post before last, “I Went For Coffee and Took A Turn Into . . . The Twilight Zone.” ????
That particular vanity license plate should be illegal. I must call my congressperson.
A related post on my gift/curse of remembering dates: Happy Birthday to My Ex-Husband’s Ex-Girlfriend
Narrator: There is a fifth dimension beyond that which is known to man. It is a dimension as vast as space and as timeless as infinity. It is the middle ground between light and shadow, between science and superstition, and it lies between the pit of man’s fears and the summit of his knowledge. This is the dimension of imagination. It is an area which we call the Twilight Zone.
— The Twilight Zone, 1959, Season One
My narrator: Meet Roxanne, a divorced mother of five who sometimes forgets to eat, or chooses to save a simple breakfast bar for her children rather than “waste” it on herself. It’s an ordinary day for Roxanne, who had left home for her only true indulgence — getting her morning coffee. She didn’t know that when she returned into her neighborhood, she would cross into . . . The Twilight Zone.
Over the weekend we had some icy snow in my part of the world. I was out running errands (in other words: getting coffee). On the way home I was wondering whether I could get my children to shovel the sidewalks for me, doubted that they would before going to visit their father and worried about whether doing it myself would throw my back out again. My Aching Back A neighbor offered to pay my daughter to do hers. I wished that daughter or any of the children would do ours also, without back talk, threats or rewards — and before they had to go. It probably wouldn’t happen. I got my coffee, and while there I picked up my daughter’s favorite breakfast sandwich as a treat, plus I wanted her to get something warm in her belly before going out to shovel the neighbor’s walkway. As is often the case, I didn’t get a sandwich for myself, saving a couple of bucks, not wanting to spend the money on — me. As I turned into my neighborhood, I had my daily thoughts of “I really hate this neighborhood, I don’t like living here.” Followed by, “I wonder if I can figure out a way to move again but keep the kids in the same schools.” And rounding out the trilogy, “Don’t be ridiculous, there’s no reason to move except that you don’t like it here and that’s just not a good enough reason.”
Given all these thoughts rushing through my head it was rather amazing that I happened to spot a woman on the side of the road. She had plastic grocery store bags spread in front of her in the snow, was shaking and clenching her hands and seemed to be trying to figure out a way to pick them up again. Clearly she was struggling to carry her groceries home in the snow.
I stopped, backed up, asked if she wanted a ride. She only gave pause for a moment and eyed me to make sure I didn’t look like a crazy. (Sometimes I can appear quite normal . . . but I digress). It was bitter cold outside. She accepted the ride, put her bags in the back seat and sat up front next to me, thanking me. She explained that she rushed out so quickly to get some things from the store that she had forgotten her gloves. It wasn’t that the bags were heavy, she said, it was that her hands were frozen and she couldn’t hold them anymore. “My hands hurt so bad,” she said.
It didn’t really matter to me why she was in her predicament, I just wanted to get her home. It was too damn cold and icy to walk, especially with groceries, no cart and no gloves. She went on to explain that her brother couldn’t shovel the car out because of his eye. His eye. Huh. I pondered this. Why would his eye keep him from shoveling . . . maybe he’d had surgery? I drifted off to my own little world, thoughts racing for first place in my head.
Then my passenger said, “I’m Roxanne.”
Skid marks on the brain. Thoughts stopped on a dime.
“Get OUT!!!” I responded, perhaps a little too energetically, reminiscent of Elaine from Seinfeld.
“What?” she responded, looking concerned. It was an unfortunate choice of words for my exclamation — I mean, saying “Get Out!” to a passenger in my car! Smooth, Roxanne.
“MY name is Roxanne,” I quickly explained.
“Yes. Really. Wow, that’s wild.” It’s a fairly uncommon name. It was surreal.
Roxanne said that I could drop her at a nearby intersection but I told her, no, I would take her all the way home. During the ride I discovered that we had gone to the same high school, and though I had assumed she was older than me, it turned out but she was too young for me even to have known her from school. She appeared worn beyond her years. I didn’t recall ever having seen her in the neighborhood or around town. It was odd.
So what of my surprise passenger, Roxanne? A woman who shared my name, who was walking alone in the snow-covered street, who failed to think of her own needs while rushing to meet the needs of others. The consequences of her neglect of self was finding herself standing in the snow with frozen fingers, groceries at her feet and blocks from home. For whatever reason– her family was not there to help her and she had to accept a ride from a stranger.
It gave me pause.
I’m that Roxanne, too, coming home with a sandwich for a child so that she could shovel another family’s walk but bringing no food for myself.
I almost said to the other Roxanne, “How could you leave home without gloves? You’ve got to take care of yourself. You’re no good to anybody if you get sick or frostbite.” But what stopped me, other than that being creepy coming from a stranger, is that other people have been saying that to me lately. My therapeutic goals are largely based upon meeting my basic self-care needs without guilt.
“Roxanne, have you been eating and sleeping? You can’t take care of your family if you don’t take care yourself.” I’ve heard often. Too often.
Did the universe send me that other Roxanne to remind me that I need to help myself? I mean, I know that when I get sick, the whole system fails. I know this, yet I still need reminders that protecting myself from the elements, eating, sleeping and yes even doing something just for my sheer enjoyment of it is as important as, well — anything. Somehow, that reminder got in my car that day, and her name was Roxanne.
I dropped Roxanne off feeling good about having helped her, since it was so very cold outside, but I knew that both of us need to take care of ourselves. I need to take care of me.
Maybe picking up a reflection of myself — what I could become, what I have been . . . was meant to be that day.
My Narrator: Roxanne, a functioning, yet melancholy divorced mother who often puts her basic needs well behind those in her care, stops in the snow to assist an eerily familiar woman in distress, a woman who perhaps shares more than just her name in . . . The Twilight Zone.
Just Me With . . . an over-active imagination?
P.S. I told my therapist about it. She queried whether the woman was real.
I’m not even going there.
See the Sequel: The Twilight Zone — Again? Seriously?