(I'm on a thematic roll, and I've hit the incline, the theme just about over. But here is one last list.)
I always thought I was an independent woman, even though I was married for so many years, half of a whole, part of a sum. Nonetheless, I was my own woman. I’d borne and raised children, had a tenured teaching job at a community college, trained and studied to write and did so. I was strong, savvy, and could complain in the big leagues when things got heated. I knew how to write that stinging memo, argue that point, talk someone down a tree. Even then, I realized that there were things I had not done on my own, things I let my husband do, like caulking the driveway and cleaning out the gutters with a shovel attached to a broom handle. But hey! I paid the bills, did most of the yard work, painted the inside of the house(s), and stuck around the house while repair men one, two and three did whatever it was they had to do. I had experience. I knew how to get stuff done.
Yet it wasn’t until I was truly single and on my own that I realized what scared me to the core. And here some of the scary things are, in no clear order.
One: rotating my tires.
I don’t like to go to the tire store, and when I recently sold my Volvo, I acknowledged the awful state of my tires to the new owners. The left hand side of every tire (you know, the side closest to the outside of the car) was almost bald. I am now going on record as saying I will—from now on—rotate my tires. Scout’s honor. But what is it about Big O or Wheelworks that freaks me out so? Is it the waiting room? That place of plastic chairs and faint but prevalent rubber smell? The harsh sound as things slide across the stark counters? The NASCAR races on the televisions that hang from every corner? Guys named Jim and Ralph with rounds of oil or rubber or something under their fingernails? Is it just the relentless waiting, the kid running around by my feet, throwing crayons, his mother ignoring both of us and staring at Jeff Gordon and his big ass NASCAR car? Hard to say, but I vow to suck it up.
Two: Having my car smogged.
Maybe this is the same issue. I will see if I can consolidate these two problems. Frankly, money will be no object. Three: Traveling alone to faraway places. One summer a couple years back, I flew to Atlanta for five days, then drove to Florida, then across Florida, and then drove back up to Atlanta and came home via Denver. I had every single stage of the trip on google maps. A to B to C to D to A was completely printed out in exquisite detail, and I only burst into hysterical tears in Jacksonville, Florida, as I tried to find the 10. What a damn wuss.
I feel better now about monumental trips on my own, but I was used to having someone do half the logistical chores, and now I am adjusting with Michael in terms of who does what. I am still Google map woman, but I do feel I learned I can pretty much order up my own rental car at any airport, get it, and return it by myself.
Four: Having surgery.
I never had surgery when I was with my husband, but I realized that when I had surgery while single or unattached legally, there are things to consider. For instance, is my will corrected? Have I shown my children where all the secrets codes and PIN numbers and passwords are. And who will shut me off if it all goes haywire, and I end up floating in my own happy coma? These are things one never likes to ask of any child, but this was something I had to do. I’m still counting on my sister to come and yank the plug out of the wall, but that’s something I won’t be able to write about.
Five: Contemplating the idea of overwhelming debt.
Having a spouse kind of gave me a buffer when I thought about this issues, but now, I contemplate it all the time. If I get fired, I’m screwed. Retirement? Right now, it’s all up to me if I work until I’m 90 or act smart and retire at 58. Every month is a little lesson in “It’s all about me” and I try to pay attention. But it’s a long lesson, and I’m trying to catch up.
Six: Getting old.
I’ve never done that with anyone before, and I only imagined it with my husband. Now, I often wonder what it would be like to get old and die alone. Maybe not so bad. Not as messy, that’s for sure. I don’t think I will have to do it by myself, but I don’t take much for granted these days. As I pull forth the future, I imagine houses with few stairs and ideal proximity to shopping and children. I think about my car, knowing that my manual transmission MINI will not be my last, as I am having issues shifting right now. I don’t know how to feel about the image of myself eating alone at a restaurant at 80, but maybe, it won’t be so bad. Who knows! Uncharted territory here.
So that’s my list of six at the moment. Not surprisingly, new things will probably pop up as I find that I have to do them, little fear spirals curling up and around me, making it hard to breathe. But as I’m sitting here now, digging deep into my thoughts for one more thing to tell you I’m scared of, I can’t think of one. No, that’s it for now. May the numbers dwindle.
Causes Jessica Inclán Supports
Women for Women International Goodwill Industries Lindsey Wildlife Museum Freecycle.org