Tuesday, March 26, 2013

A Neighborly Day For A Beauty

I’m finding it damn near impossible to spend time by myself these days.

I’m never like that. Usually, I’m Little Miss Don’t Need Anybody: the girl who sometimes catches herself wishing she didn’t have a dog because he loves her too damn much. The girl who – if she’s being completely honest (and if she isn’t, what’s the point?) – was at least 1% relieved to have to put the cat down last Wednesday, because it’s one less living thing depending on her.

But I was unemployed all winter, and sort of gradually and accidentally wound up spending nearly every single day of it with one person – One Person, whom I suddenly and accidentally picked a fight with and haven’t heard from since. (That’s a lie. The phone rang once but I ignored it and vice versa. Guess I showed One Person, didn’t I?). So now, even though I’m back to work and everything, it feels like there are all these hours in each day I don’t know what to do with. A girl can only work out for so long, after all. I don’t watch television (except with One Person, who never shuts it off, so there’s my 1% relief at having put him down, right there). And sleep is something I tend to fight off, not indulge in. So even after a long day at work and a 45-minute drive home, I feed the damn dog who loves me too much, I let him out to pee, and I get back in the car and go shoot pool.

My game’s thanking me for it – I actually ran the table Saturday night for only the second time in my whole life (which wouldn’t’ve happened if One Person had been there, because in front of him I always choke the 8. So there’s another 1%, I guess). And last night I beat someone I’ve never been able to beat in the three years since I moved here. Didn’t just beat him, either. Smoked his ass. Left him with five balls on the table. And last night they didn’t even have my M&Ms.

Eventually, though, the bar closes, and I take the long way home. Or I drive up the other way to get gas that I don’t really need. Or I stop at the little store for candy. Anything, so I don’t have to go home and fight off sleep alone.


But today is Tuesday and I have to go to work, so last night I did not stay till closing. I was going to, when I thought they closed at ten, but then remembered that on Monday nights they stay open till 1:00 am for washers, and even I knew that was a bad idea. So I left at 9:30, took the direct route, and even – because I’d scarfed an entire order of fried pickles in lieu of my lamented M&Ms – drove right by the store where they sell candy. I even made it all the way up and over Laskey Hill before deciding I had to turn around.

Now, for my whole Massachusetts-life I was the sort who, if you post “No turning” in your driveway, would pull in to it just to piss you off. You have no right, you selfish prick, and you can’t catch me anyhow. But I like the people up here – even the ones I haven’t met yet – and it is backwoods country, and I know what it’s like to have someone pull in your driveway and make you think you have a visitor but you don’t. 


So up here I always find a road or a wide spot to launch my three-points from. This is a tough order on Laskey Hill, though, and last night I damn near broke my rule. But it was dark and it was fairly late on Monday night, and everyone has dogs that will go crazy – so at the last second I thought about those people in that house and straightened the wheel just enough to miss the driveway and pull off the road right after it instead…

…and right into the ditch on the side.

They dig these ditches up here! I’ve never understood it. Road shoulders that are perfectly flat and safe and soft are intentionally ditched out and filled with rocks. Not gravel. Rocks. Like loaf-of-bread-sized rocks. I knew it, and I’ve wondered about it, but last night there was snow in it and I forgot. And what looked like a wide spot turned out to be quicksand, and when I threw it in reverse I spun and smoked. And when I got out of the car and looked at the lights on in that house I couldn’t bear the thought of knocking on their door to tell them that, since I hadn’t wanted to trouble them with my headlights for three seconds, I now needed a half an hour’s worth of actual, honest-to-god help.

So I flagged down a passing car.

She turned out to be about as useful as I would have been in her shoes, but at least she stopped. And since she did, the next guy who drove by stopped, as well. And the next guy had a big old fucking truck.

I lied to him. A little. I mean, I told him about the turning around and the not-wanting to use the driveway, but I said I was going back to the store for cigarettes. Seemed a bit more – I don’t know   genuinely necessary than going back for candy. Or just not really wanting to go home. And as soon as I said that, he took out his pack, gave me a smoke and lit it for me, then said he’d assumed I’d swerved to miss a deer.

Deer. That’s the lie I should have told. Gawdang.

Anyway, Truck Guy said he couldn’t push me out ‘cause of the snow, and if he tried to shove me with his truck he’d break my headlights. He said what I needed was a tow, but he didn’t have anything to pull with. And then looked over at that house I’d gone so far out of my psychotic way to not-bother and said “Their lights are on. You smoke your smoke. I’ll be right back.”

I heard the House Guy, when he answered the door, say “Why didn’t she just use the driveway?” and I stopped myself from hollering “’Cuz she’s a moron!” just in time. And then Truck Guy came back alone, said “Help is on the way,” and crawled under my car in the snow to see what he could hitch to.

“I don’t want to hitch to the axel,” he said, “because there’s all these brake lines under there. I’ll hitch to the bumper. It might break a little, but the car’s a piece of shit anyway, right? So who cares?”

I would’ve hugged him for that one if he hadn’t been on the ground.

House Guy came out with the hitch just then and introduced himself. “Oh!,” he said. “I’ve seen you up at the bar, shooting pool. My name’s Dave.” He shook my hand. “Neighbor Dave.”

Nice to meet you, Neighbor Dave. I’m sorry I don’t recognize you, but I don’t tend to notice anything else when I shoot pool.

So they hitched me up and pulled me out and nothing broke except my ego (that’s a lie; my ego is bionic, man)*. I thanked them both, and hugged them, and then I turned around and drove back up and over Laskey Hill. I’d lied to Truck Guy, after all, and he’d given me a smoke for it, so I felt I had to at least head off in the direction of store. I turned around, this time, in the high school parking lot.

When I finally got home, I posted a love letter to Vacationland on facebook. I sent a text to One Person, apologizing. And then, without further ado – or candy – fell asleep.

Woke up to realize I’d read the schedule wrong and I don’t have to work today at all. But it's a beautiful day in the neighborhood, so I’m taking my dog for a walk.

That oughta kill a couple hours, anyhow.

*also a lie