They say that children always know when something’s wrong, but … I didn’t. I was one of the kids who was constantly surprised when something bad happened. I was sheltered throughout my childhood, or perhaps I was just oblivious, whether by choice or not. There’s also the potential that my mom was a teensy tiny bit dramatic and worried about everything so I simply became inured to the drama and ignored the real drama.
By the time I was in college, I just laughed. My freshman year in college, my mom called me as she arrived home from Parent Weekend. “Michelle, are you sitting down? I have some bad news for you,” she intoned seriously.
Silly me, I sat on my bed, awaiting the bad news although honestly without much sense of dread.
My mom took a deep breath. “My car. Is in the pond. It rolled into the pond, and it’s going to be totaled.”
I blinked. “Ok. Were you in it when it happened? Did anyone get hurt?” I began my inquiry.
“No. No, no one was in it. I had parked the car in the garage and gotten my suitcases out before closing the trunk. I went inside and closed the garage door. When your sister opened the house door, she asked why I hadn’t parked in the garage. It wasn’t until I turned around then that I realized the car wasn’t in the garage anymore! She was almost starting to wail at this point.
I managed to calm her down, ascertaining that the only damage to anything was her pride. And the car that had somehow mysteriously rolled from our garage, down the driveway, and into the pond in front of our house. Personally, I was grateful that the car – which needed the car left in first gear constantly eighteen years into its life, as the parking brake no longer functioned – had rolled into the pond instead of into the street where children might have been playing or a car might have been driving by. I was happy that the large weeping willow trees on one side of the pond were spared. And I was thrilled that as my mom had walked behind the car, it hadn’t started rolling then and knocked her down or worse.
I was inured to her drama by then. And looking back, I think I was inured to it at an early age, or I simply believed that life was always going to be good to me. Maybe it was just in my personality from the start to take things as they come and let them roll off my back. The day my mom packed my sister and I up and left my dad? Total surprise to me (they did get back together months later and are still together today – coming up on their fiftieth wedding anniversary actually). When my mom sat my sister down and told us my dad was in treatment for alcoholism (there’s a long story there, and some day I’ll have to share that one)? I shrugged and went on with my life, it was a surprise to me but everything would be fine in the end. I know it drove my mom nuts that my sister and I couldn’t figure out where she was leading my sister and I with her questions as she tried to tell us where my dad was, but nothing seemed wrong to me at that time or before then.
In a way, I think my ability to roll with the punches as they come and not focus on the bad that may or may not be coming down the pike serves me well. I don’t dwell on what might happen. I don’t worry about what’s to come. And I don’t get nervous or butterflies in my stomach – because it’s all going to be ok in the end. On the other hand, there are events in my life that completely blindside me because not only am I not looking for the signs of bad things, I appear to have an ability to ignore some of them.
Looking around at how some people I know live their lives – always looking for trouble and waiting for the other shoe to drop – I think I’m ok being the oddball child and, to a lesser degree now, adult who doesn’t sense that something is wrong and is just waiting for it to come. In what camp do you fall?
In the interest of full disclosure, I received a copy of the book “Carry Yourself Back To Me” as part of the From Left to Write book club for purposes of facilitating our discussion. As part of this book club, we write posts inspired by the book, as opposed to traditional book reviews. I received no compensation, and all opinions are my own, as always.
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