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Tuesday, November 28, 2000

So, do you want to know about my car? I don't have one tonight, but tomorrow looks promising.

The auto club guy took a look under the hood, whipped out his jumper cables (connecting one to the battery and the other to something else), and it started right up. I drove it to the mechanic's and got a ride home from Mom. I expected to have it back today, but he wants to keep it overnight to make sure the battery he replaced is the only thing wrong. Good idea. I can deal.

I didn't even ask him how high the bill has reached so far. Whatever he wants, that's what I pay. It's part of the cost of never learning anything about cars.

I have to admit, I'm a little on the blue side today. Not the dusky indigo of serious depression. More like waves of misty twilight rolling through me, every time I stop to think. Every time I let the awareness of what I'm missing overwhelm the reality of all the good I have in my life.

It's not the car, but that's part of it. If it had been running normally today, I would have taken it out of the garage at ten this morning, picked up my mail at the post office and a few things at the grocery store, and been back home by eleven. The car would have stayed in the garage until ten tomorrow morning, and I wouldn't have given a thought to going anywhere.

But I sat here all afternoon and evening feeling helpless. I could use some bread, and taco salad mix, and chunky vegetable soup. But I can get by without any of that for another day. And if I needed a ride, I have several people who would help me get wherever I had to be. So it's not the car, at least not entirely. Not mostly.

It's not the weather, either, although I'm counting the days until spring (something like 115, but only 24 until the days start getting longer).

Okay, maybe the weather, or the time of year, does have something to do with it. I might stay home a lot, and I might be a night person, but I find these long hours of darkness oppressive. At almost exactly the moment I can quit working for the day, it's suddenly too dark and cold to go for a walk, or work in the yard, or even sit on the porch and read.

Things I can do at nine o'clock on a summer night I can't do even at 4:30 on a late November afternoon.

It's not even the fact that the cold I thought I'd shaken over the weekend at the lake seems to be back, and worse.

It's all of those things, but it's also the letdown from four days of closeness with the family. Getting away for me means getting into a life of the kind of give-and-take that is the norm for most people, who share their homes and their lives with others. They have to learn to make compromises, curb their feelings and their tongues, go out of the way to keep a household running smoothly.

Some are better at it than others, but the point is that they're used to it, and I'm not. I live alone, and I like it, except when a weekend like this reminds me that there are good things, too, about sharing space.

People feed off each other's energy. They share each other's highs and ease each other through the lows. They give each other something to talk about, and plenty to think about, besides themselves and their own problems.

I'm content with my life, but it's going to take a few days to get back into it. It always does, after spending time with my family. It's not that I want things to change, or that I'd give up sharing the weekend so that I wouldn't feel the emptiness afterward. It's just different.

In a way, my car problem has been a blessing. It's eased the transition. I've had visits from Mom, Suzanne and David that wouldn't have happened without this vehicular setback. This has kept me from being as miserable as I seem to think I have a right to be. I know I'll be back on an even keel before this week is even over. Nothing has to change, except that I have to get used to being who I am again.

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