Yesterday was one of those days that didn’t go according to plan. I took Duncan to Boston Children’s Hospital at Waltham to have his cast removed and wound up in Boston because of a scheduling glitch. Such things used to throw me into anxiety-fueled rages. Here’s what happened instead.
I got back in the car and thumbed the Rosary hanging off the directional stick next to the steering wheel. I turned on my Android Spotify app, plugged it into the car stereo and blasted some Van Halen and Black Label Society. Then we drove to Boston.
Duncan got his cast removed. We had lunch at Au Bon Pain in the hospital and went home. No tantrums. No anxiety-fueled craziness over the damage to the workday and the fact that we had to go into Boston. Not too many years ago, driving in downtown Boston terrified me. All those one-way streets. The traffic, especially when the Red Sox play. I couldn’t handle it.
In more recent years — as was the case yesterday — I don’t freak out over these curve balls. They still piss me off, to be sure. But I can readjust and move on without incident. It’s a gift you can’t fully appreciate unless you’ve lived under the spell of fear, anger and anxiety.
Rewind to 23 years ago. It was registration day at North Shore Community College, where I was enrolled for the fall semester. I was just out of high school and angry at the world for a variety of reasons. I had been working long hours in my father’s warehouse in Saugus and was rubbed raw. I was frustrated because a girl I liked was getting cold feet about the idea of hooking up with a loose cannon like me. It didn’t take much to trigger a temper tantrum.
That day I was rattled hard by the long lines of college registration. I wasn’t expecting it and was full of fear that I wouldn’t get the classes I needed. Not that it really mattered, since my major was liberal arts.
Two hours in, I realized I had to give them a check for the courses I was taking. I had no money and panicked. They allowed me to drive to Saugus to get a check from my father. I was in full road rage mode on the drive there and back, riding up other people’s rear bumpers and keeping one foot on the break and one on the gas.
By day’s end, I was in supernova mode and breathing into a bag between the chain of cigarettes I was smoking.
That kind of rage was a daily thing for a time. And it always struck in moments when life didn’t go according to plan.
I’m glad I’m older and slower. I’m glad I found the tools to keep such things from happening: that renewed appreciation for rock ‘n’ roll, a little prayer and the brain-balancing effects of Prozac and Wellbutrin. It’s also summertime. My brain functions better this time of year.
I was able to put on a calm face for my son, and he was calm as a result. And despite the scheduling mess, the cast came off as planned.