Saturday Afternoon

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.




6 Comments on “Saturday Afternoon

  1. So, the peace achieved while walking a dog does not represent a deep underlying change??? I am concerned now. Gotta say, this piece got me not just with the subject (very close to home) but the writing. Your writing and knowledge of when to stop is beautiful and instructive.

  2. I’ve learned to cuss and slam doors without guilt. I still can’t get the middle finger to go up on its own. I keep trying and end up with this weird two-fingered British insult thing going on that makes my adult son laugh. I’m working on that one-finger salute fault though. And slowly learning that anger is part of who we are. I spent too many years trying to keep everyone happy and feeling like a failure if someone got mad. Too many years feeling that anger equated with a lack of self-control. I’m done with all that, and also cracking the little inner door occasionally just to keep the hinges from blowing off. Thanks for another post that makes me sigh and think ‘I’m not the only one!’.

  3. As always, I appreciate the honesty, power, and humor of your writing. Having been a young Switzerland in the interest of surviving the battles of my siblings, I especially identified with that statement.

  4. Mmmm, I sometimes do this and sometimes it makes me feel better, but usually not! I’m a bit more like your mum, 6 words instead of 10 – I know, I can write a story, but I don’t talk much 💞

  5. I get this – in fact I visited my u-store-it place today. I try so hard to stay out of it, but sometimes life and perhaps a healthy dash of hormones get the better of me. I didn’t pound the steering wheel, but I ranted and raved. In the end, I felt no better for it, which is the main reason I try to avoid that space.

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