The thing about growing up the way I did was I knew I had no one to rescue me, no one to dry my tears. It wasn’t a child’s thought, it was a preternaturally adult realization that I was forced to register as a young person so I would survive the people who had been deemed my caretakers by biology and society. I’ve had that “no room to fuck up” feeling ever, especially since I’m not naturally an underdog. My unique skill set often means I understand others better than they understand themselves (let alone me) and thus owe them patience and compassion even when we’re at cross purposes. And yet: I am human and so screw up with a regularity–most recently by running on a broken baby toe because it never occurred to me it would so screw up my alignment that I’d be injured for a month at least.
Bottom line: I’ve never had a safety net to speak of but the kindness of friends and acquaintances. And during Trump’s reign this fact has proven genuinely scary: I ran out of cash twice, my kidneys blew out after a Covid bout, I immobilized myself twice through stress injuries, and I’ve been unusually irritable, which means I’m constantly poised to alienate anyone who doesn’t have to love me, which in my life is pretty much everyone.
Which is ALL to say that yes, today marks Week 3 of a back spasm so painful that, as I write this, I can’t stand up or sit, let alone lift or clean anything or walk down the stairs of my building. It’s honestly humiliating, let alone dangerous, to be so vulnerable; even I am rolling my eyes at my damsel-in-distressiness. And of course because of Covid my normal healers have long fled the city and I am too broke for the Goldilocks experience of testing out a series of practitioners until I find the correct one. (I saw a terrible one Friday.) And I live alone and can’t drag people over every time I need to eat or feed Grace and of course I am running out of cash because I can’t do readings while I can’t sit up.
What has always scared me most is not seeing the forest for the trees, the escape hatch to a terrible trap. And because everyone is also struggling, worrying (drowning), I genuinely don’t expect anyone to fix or save me upon reading this. But on this very dark November Sunday night (the saddest nights of the whole year) I am still writing this out. Because I believe solidarity helps. And because I know that telling my story always saves me if only because it makes me believe that my story matters too.
Postscript: In response to the very kind offers of support, donations are gratefully accepted here.
My back still out, I drove into the city today because I had errands that simply had to get done–food and medicine to fetch for Grace, that sort of thing. I suppose I could have used one of the new-fangled services to get the items delivered but the New Englander in me finds it hard to spend money on things I can do myself, and the truth is that I haven’t worked while I’ve been feeling poorly so for the billionth time in my life I don’t have money to spare.
Into lower Manhattan I ventured, where, grimacing in pain, I knocked all the errands off my list while cursing all the myriad unmasked mothertruckers, not to mention the usual bastion of crap drivers and bikers that (I’m sorry, biker friends) were making it absurdly difficult not to hit them. I hate driving in Manhattan on any day but Sunday even when my spine is not in spasm.
Anyhoot–or so said the owl-I parked on Lower Broadway and though had thought I’d left plenty of time on the meter, found myself sprinting back to my car bad back and all because I’d underestimated how Covid restrictions would add time to my errands. I returned to my car two minutes late to find a NYPD officer already scanning my car for a ticket. All is fair in love and war, but–no doubt because she was anticipating my fury–the woman began to rail about how she had to write out the ticket even though I’d returned to my car already. “I can’t do anything once it’s scanned,” she said in one of the most common scam lines of all time.
I blew up, I admit it. I’d accepted the reality of the ticket but not of having her go off on me. My lower back was pounding, I’d completely defeated the purpose of doing my errands myself by incurring a $65 ticket, and now this bird was lecturing me on top of it. “Just give me the damn ticket and spare me the shit, ” I said, and then she really began yelling at me about how she was just doing her job, which, honestly, she was–a job that no doubt is incredibly stressful in this brave new world.
Centered, om-shanthi intuitive Lisa could recognize this, but stressed-out, injured, broke Lisa did not give a fuck about her backstory though I could sense it was rough. So I said, “Your job does not entail lecturing me, so just fuck off. I’ll pay the ticket but I’m not paying to listen to a NYPD meter maid pig.” At that, she waved me off and began walking away, not writing the ticket, not anything. I stood for a second watching her, confused, before driving off, my heart pounding in my throat. Then I ran through our exchange and felt sick. A meter officer is not high on the NYPD totem pole, and I could feel she hated her job more than I could ever hate my own circumstances. There’s nothing worse than knowing you’re the bigger asshole in an exchange. So I double-parked and went back to find her.
“I’m not talking to you, you were disrespectful,” she said. “I was,” I said. “Feel free to give me the ticket. I am just coming back to say sorry. I am having a bad day but it is no excuse for how I spoke to you.” “Go away,” she said. “I will,” I said. “But please know I know you deserve an apology.” Right there between Spring and Prince, with all kinds of New Yorkers streaming around us, we both burst into tears.
“It’s ok. You were having a bad day,” she managed and waved me off again. Knowing that was the best either of us could summon in that moment, I nodded and climbed back in my car before I could get another ticket.
Between Trump holding the nation hostage and this last gasp of Mars Retrograde, always roughest when coming and going, life is unusually stressful even for 2020. None of us are our best selves and none of us have an excuse to treat each other like garbage. As I write this, I’m icing my back, and have declared 4pm whiskey o’clock. Wherever that woman is, I hope she can do the same soon.