Sometimes you have to wonder if completely losing control of one’s temper to the point of beating on the steering wheel of one’s car might possibly be therapeutic like having a colonic or one of those facials that extract every morsel of unpleasantness from your pores or if it’s just another in a cascading, decades-long list of over the top reactions to things going wrong.
I fill my tank with patience and maturity every day. Last week, I almost posted on Facebook that I had somehow lost the itching, incessant need to call out every asshole in the landscape. I was struck, probably after a long walk through a big park, by my mellowness, my attainment of calm, achieved without yoga or meditation, only by walking my dogs, being fully with them as they sniffed every tree and peed on some. It calms me, my dogs’ pace. And from that, I figured I’d finally changed my personality. But I knew better. There had just been a long stretch of placid, the doldrums of mood.
I didn’t grow up in a house with wild tempers. When my parents disagreed with each other, they sent out signals to the wallpaper which then sent a silent radioactive message to all of us. There is tension in the house. Beware. When my mother was upset, she would go silent, speaking only five or six words a day instead of the usual ten.
My brother and sister got into it, unbeknownst to my parents. Nine and six years older than me, they fought a lot but only when my parents were gone. The fights were over chores or who watched what on television. The arguments could get vicious, snapped dish towels and much yelling, doors slamming, but no fisticuffs. I cowered on my bed, aligned with the stronger of the two but careful in my demonstration of my alliance since I shared a bedroom with the weaker one. She would pass it on if she didn’t feel complete neutrality in me, the little nine-year old Switzerland.
So where does this come from, this steering wheel pounding rage? It comes from a tiny warehouse, a u-store-it space, rented for $100 a month, where everything that ever happened is crammed, where everything a person has tried is inventoried, every disappointment cataloged, all of the aching heads layered like compressed ferns and the insects in amber at the natural history museum. So much is in the tiny warehouse that the door won’t close and because the old, stuffed bins are full of the toxic mix of hope and reality, the door blows off. It blows completely off.
But only once in a great while, thank God.
I pound the door shut and press on.