The last couple of days have been comically, absurdly bad; ipso facto, there is a God, he reads my blog, and he thinks it needs to be darker. I’ve got to hand it to him: he crammed an impressive array of distressing events—from soul-crushing heartaches to your run-of-the-mill minor indignations—into a highly compressed time frame.
Well-played, author of this universe; well-played.
Let’s skip over the soul-crushing heartaches and get right down to the minor indignations. This morning the kids and I had planned to meet friends at this new artisanal, seasonal, small-batch doughnut place on Wilshire and 6th. It was a bit too far to walk with the kids, so I decided I’d drive us. No big deal.
I walked to pick up the car from H-W-M-B-P’s house and was extremely unfazed about the other car parked next to ours in the carport. That’s right, I was unruffled; I was cool. I even backed out of the carport without smashing either side view mirror or hitting any pedestrians.
We drove West on Wilshire. The pleasingly smug feeling of grown-up-ness that envelops me, sometimes, when I’m driving the kids started to kick-in. I’m just a single mom driving my kids to the motherfucking artisanal doughnut place, the way that other Angeleno single moms do, I thought to myself. Oh yeah.
But then I had to park the car. I’ve observed, many times in this blog, that driving makes me anxious. But in some ways that’s not precisely true; it’s not driving I find stressful so much as parking; I could drive in circles for a really long time and be perfectly relaxed so long as I didn’t have to park. Parking lots; valet parking; street parking: they all produce in me their own unique form of anxiety.
I drove in ever increasing circles around the doughnut place. Round and round I went. Five minutes passed. Then ten. Then fifteen. The children were absolutely no help. It was pathetic, really, how unhelpful they were. It was coming up on twenty minutes of circling, and we were now at least a fifteen-minute walk away from the doughnut place, but, finally, I found a spot.
I was sweaty, my heart was thumping in my chest, but I felt triumphant: I had done it. I had driven my children to …. a location about fifteen minutes walk away from the doughnut shop. Yes, the doughnut shop was itself only about twenty-five minutes walk from our house, and I had already spent at least that amount of time driving and finding somewhere to park; but that really wasn’t the point. It was still an unmitigated triumph.
“All right,” I declared brightly, “let’s go get our doughnuts!” Both children looked at me dourly.
“Are we gonna have to walk for, like, twenty minutes or something to get there?” asked the elder.
“Probably only ten minutes,” I lied, “and it’s a lovely day.”
“I am NOT going,” he declared, and burst into tears. “It’s not fair that I have to walk blocks and blocks for something I don’t even like,” he cried. “Why are you so mean?”
“You don’t like doughnuts?” I asked, genuinely surprised.
“No, I hate doughnuts,” he said.
“Oh,” I said. “I didn’t remember that.”
There were some minutes of silence while I mulled what to do. We were about five minutes walk away from an artisanal espresso place so I decided to abandon the dumbass artisanal doughnuts and instead walk with the younger to get croissants and let the elder have some time to himself while we acquired them.
As I was handing over my seventeen dollars for my latte and three croissants, the guy at the counter asked me, “what does your T-shirt say?”
I was wearing my “I heart phenomenology” T-shirt. It looks like this:
Do I know what the brackets mean? I assume, vaguely, that they have something to do with the way phenomenology, as a philosophical approach, “brackets” the status of a thing’s existence in favor of focusing on one’s first-person experience of it … but I don’t really know, and I don’t even care that much. I don’t even really know what phenomenology is … I just know that I like it (that’s a phenomenology joke, btw.)
Anyway. It says “I heart phenomenology,” I explained shyly.
He smiled. “Oh right,” he said, “I get it … and that’s why it has the brackets!” I smiled back, genuinely delighted.
But the smile drained from his face and he looked at me almost angrily.
“I don’t really get it,” he explained. “I was kidding. It’s, uh, completely over my head,” he muttered as he walked away.
“Oh,” I said, confused and feeling that perhaps I should apologize for my pretentious T-shirt.
I suddenly felt alone and ridiculous.
The younger and I took the croissants back to the car. We sat in the Prius in silence and ate them. The elder felt better. Then we drove home.