Thursday, January 05, 2006

i’m okay, you’re okay, but that guy might be in jail

I’ve been such a jumping bean lately. Not in a good, tons-of-energy, burn-a-lot-of-calories way. I’m more like my cat, OC, who will sometimes walk cautiously up to an innocuous item like a binder clip, take a tiny sniff, then jump three feet in the air.

Blame my mood (I don’t know if free-floating anxiety is one of the 12 stages of grief, but it seems to be one of my stages). Blame living with a nervous little guy like OC, blame the disturbing prevalence of police cars in my neighborhood. (Note to Dad, if you’re reading this: I am sure they’re just, um, filming a movie about cops and robbers. A very, very realistic movie.)

And so I was determined to go to yoga this week, to zen the twitchiness right out of me. Attempt #1 involved a roundabout route to the gym, since Adams Boulevard was occupied by two cops chasing some dude on foot, gun drawn, squad car parked diagonally across the wide street.

Once I got to Bally’s, I learned that Monday’s class had been canceled. It would have been nice if they’d informed the chick at the shake shop who sold me a pass anyway, but that’s not how Bally’s does things. There is a reason it only costs $18 a month to be a member.

After putting in 30 not-very-enlightening minutes on the elliptical machine and purchasing a Dirt Devil and two CDs (
Dar Williams and Spoon) at Best Buy next door, I drove home. It was a couple of hours later, and I took Washington rather than Adams, but police blockades were apparently my destiny that day.

More U-turns, no guns this time.

By the time I got to La Brea and Venice and saw flares peppering the intersection, I was starting to wonder if I was crazy (which sounds kind of self-deprecating, but really, how egotistical is it to assume that all of
Mid-City’s crime problems originate in my brain?). I was relieved to discover that Intersection Interruption #3 was just the result of a malfunctioning traffic light.

I went to bed that night—or maybe it was a different night, it’s hard to keep track—watching my room turn dark, then light, then dark in tempo with the spinning light on a police car outside. When the room lit up, I looked at the framed shred of blue-and-erstwhile-white blanket framed on my wall.

My mom conveniently wrote a cheat sheet on the back: “This is a piece of the quilt that came west to California with Margaret Evangaline Paine [a great-great something of mine]. She came with her father and her new stepmother, who was younger than she was. They were attacked by Indians once and survived by hiding under the wagon.”

I thought about being a pioneer, about being in danger in a land you didn’t really need to go to in the first place. About interrupting the people who were already there. And yet, we all do need—in some form of the word—to do everything that we do, otherwise we wouldn’t do it. Margaret needed to come to California, and I needed to move to this part of LA, and the guy running from the cops needed to run.

I finally made it to yoga last night. Once, when I was upside down in downward-facing dog, I saw a guy running up the stairs and thought, “Shit! Something’s going down!” Then I remembered that running is what people do at the gym.

I breathed and I thought and I relaxed. I felt sad, which was a nice alternative to feeling anxious. I realized—in the midst of some sort of chest-to-the-floor pose—that what I really want is for someone to tell me it’s okay. That I didn’t do anything stupid, and that I won’t deserve whatever I get if something bad happens, and that nothing bad is going to happen. Even if things aren’t okay, it’s nice to hear.


Tracy Lynn said...

It might seem odd to hear from a total stranger, but I firmly believe that you WILL be ok. That the things you have chosen to do or not do are leading you to a wonderful time in your life, and that all will only become clear in hindsight.
Does that help? :-)

Cheryl said...

It does! Strangers who say such nice things are my favorite kinds of strangers.