Wednesday, January 18, 2017

the emergency brake

In the dark she leaned against the pull of her backseat belt to ask me, "Are you going to use that?"

Pointing at the emergency brake my right hand rested on while I drove. "Misty, you drive funny," she continued. "My drivers' ed teacher would fail you for not having both hands on your steering wheel." She took a breath of cold night air and began to detail the bad driving habits of every mom who has ever driven her home from gym.  (I know all of your secrets.)

I was taught to drive "stick" when I was 21.  Too young to be married but married anyway.  Too young to have kids but had 2 of them anyway.  As far as I can recall I have driven a car with a manual transmission ever since... until now. 

I am an animal built more of habits than instincts. The hand that once nervously buzzed over the round nob of the gear stick now comes to rest on the e brake.

"No, I'm not going to use it. If I did we'd be in big trouble..." I told her.

My mind trying to work out the opposing forces of the fuel pushing acceleration verses the little cable meant to aid in holding the car at rest after it has already fully stopped.

No contest: momentum would win.

Of course it does.  I cleared all the clutter from our lives.  I found it so easy to slip out of town. So easy to skip out to ski.  Dinner is effortless. Getting dressed is easy. Doing school is simple.  And at 6:23 PM last night sitting half way through my shift at the front desk I realized one thing: I am not. 


It started in small pieces.  The awareness that I was cold.  The kind of cold that hurts your bones.  Then I was tired.  The kind of tired that weights you, pulls you to the ground like a breaking wave. 


Then one of the dance moms sauntered up to the counter to ask a question about withdrawing from a dance class.  It let loose a cascade of thought in my head. I want to quit. I want to withdraw and spend our afternoons eating sliced apples and watching PBS.  I want to cook dinner.  Take long afternoon walks. Watch the night fall from my kitchen as I put the last of the drying dishes away.  Listening into the evening traffic for the familiar sound of BC's truck rounding the drive... I want to pull the emergency brake.  I want to go home.

Right before the 7:00 hour I did slip off.  An hour early from work. Leaving BC to pick up Beach from practice.  Leaving Lindsey and Aimee to cover for me so I could drive home swallowed in the city's striated prison of lights. Pretending it was some other decent hour for a stay at home mom to be out in.  Maybe coming home from the grocery store or returning from the library. 

I had time to straighten the kitchen.  Put a pizza in the oven.  Read a chapter in my own book.

I had time to see that I cleared all the clutter from our lives so we could live "faster" but I forgot that it didn't change me.  I have a slow soul and a crowded mind.  They don't like to go fast.  Going fast knocks over too many of the boxes.

On the slopes yesterday I had the same complaint. Yes, I would love to lean forward, de-weight my turns, and let my knees absorb more but I can't do any of that of when all I feel like I am doing is trying to slow down. BC's answer was simple: you need to get a lesser slope.

I did. I slipped off to the bunny hills and practiced- and it worked. I skied the best I have ever skied in my life yesterday. After an hour I took it back to the real slopes of the mountain and the changes I was able to make in my form came with me.


But in life, in the middle of Meet Season, there is no lesser slope, there is no e brake to nervously clutch.  My crowed mind with up turned boxes watches the weather patterns over Colorado and I worry myself sick over something that hasn't happened yet. 

My slow soul dreams of painstakingly trekking up the white back of massive rock dragon. In a world of snow and silence.  In a world without speed.


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