I forgot a two-liter of soda in my trunk and there is some kind of accident up ahead, bringing traffic to jerky starts and stops. The bottle rolls around and I think about how it sounds like I have a dead body back there. It is a lot of noise for an item that isn’t really that big.
Twin break lights line the lanes ahead of me. I am impatient out of habit – traffic being the leading cause of rises in my blood pressure – but as I remind myself, I have plenty of time. After all, I am just going to the coffee shop to sit, what difference does it make if I sit there or in my car? The point is that I am not sitting at home. The thin line of indulging in my isolation is sharp as a blade and I know if I do not move, there will be blood. I watch the police lights from the accident ahead flicker on the backs of cars in the auto dealership lot to my left and think of Christmas lights. But no, that’s wrong – Christmas is Red and Green, this is Red and Blue.
Eventually I make it past the accident and traffic clears. I am able to go several blocks without hearing the thunk and dunk from the back. I make a turn and the digital speed limit sign yells at me in bright yellow caps – TOO FAST it says and shows me a digital frowny face to really convey it’s disapproval. I slow down – I don’t want to get pulled over, my tags are two months expired and plus I have this dead body in the trunk, except of course it’s not really a dead body at all, just my caffeine-free beverage because I’m 35 and don’t drink caffeine after three anymore. I think about being old.
I think about how I’ve never seen a dead body before, except for in coffins at funerals for people I’ve known and tv shows. I think about the quote Mikelle sent me the other day about women watching true crime for entertainment when women are so often the victims. I think about how I said once to Caryn, “I call Criminal Minds my mindless entertainment, but that doesn’t sound very good, does it? So much violence and pain as entertainment?” She shrugged and said, “I think it sounds fine.” I think about how I gave myself a pass, and how her opinions held more weight to me than my own. I think about Caryn, and how with an intent to avoid the traps she fell prey to, I accidentally fell into some of my own making. I think about how I don’t know what I’m doing with my life and how I have never felt so uncertain of my future, so unmoored. I think, “I am crazy”. I think, “What a mess”.
I make it to the coffee shop and walk inside. I don’t spend much time here anymore, but this place is a comfortable familiar, like the living room of your high school best friend’s house – just come in and make yourself at home. I have brought a small stack of books with me and also a journal. I have a habit of carrying too many things with me – I jump so often from one subject to the next, I always need a variety. Today’s selection is a book on neglect, a volume of Margaret Atwood poems, a book of letters from daughters who have lost their mothers. All subjects that are swirling around in my head, among others. But it turns out I don’t open any of these books because my friend Dave walks in the shop and we talk instead. I tell him some of the things I have been thinking. He tells me some of the things he has been thinking. He leaves me with this advise. “Pick a direction and just go towards it. It doesn’t matter what direction, you just have to pick one.”
My head echoes with these words for the next couple of days, because that is the beating pulse of a riddle I am trying to solve – which direction? Where do I go from here? And rolling around in the trunk of my mind are the doubts – my own personal dead bodies making all that noise, so much noise for something you can’t even see.