Sunday, January 30, 2005

The Filling Station on Memory Lane

Last night on my way home from work, with the impending doom of today's one inch snow fall, I stopped to fill up my gas tank. After my car chug-a-lugged as much as it could, I went in to pay. There was a rather large man with a handlebar mustache buying an inordinate number of lottery tickets in front of me. So I waited. And tapped my foot. And waited. And tapped my foot some more as the line behind me got longer and longer.

And then Handlebar wanted scratch-off tickets. So I tapped my foot some more. And then I heard a voice.

"Hebdomeros? Is that you?"

(no, the voice didn't call me Hebdomeros...she used my real name)

I turned around and saw this girl I used to know, and in fact dated briefly both in high school and college. Not being a high school reunion, it took me a couple of seconds to realize who she was. She looks virtually the same now, tall, ultra-straight shoulder-length blonde hair, and very Icelandic features. Imagine a tall Bjork with blonde hair, and you have a pretty good idea. I was smitten with her to varying degrees at different points in my life. She was one of those girls in high school who pretended to be dumb to get guys. I was one of the few she didn't bother to do that with. But she liked chaos and high drama, and would do anything and everything to sabatouge a good relationship. And not just with me. After the second go around with her in college I realized as much fun as she was to hang out with, it wasn't worth the tension and turmoil to date her.

We chatted in line for a couple of minutes, and then another little bit after Handlebar finished up. I told her where I'm working, what I'm doing, future plans. She told me she dropped out of college her senior year, is now out of work and at the beginnings of her 2nd divorce (she's about 30). I wish I could say I was surprised, but I wasn't. It's still heart breaking, though. She's smart enough to do lots of different things.

As we exchanged pleasantries, a line from Updike's Rabbit, Run flashed through my mind. Rabbit slips out of his house one night, feeling like he needs to get away from his family, his salesman job, his life and just start over again. He stops at a gas station to fill up.

The attendant looks at him and says something like, "You look lost,"

"I am lost," Rabbit replied.

"Well, where you going? I might be able to give you directions."

"I don't know where I'm going."

"You've got to know where you're going to know how you're going to get there."

Paraphrased from memory, of course. So by no means exact. But an odd thing to leap into my mind since I haven't read it in ten years.

But it made me realize that as much as I bitch to myself (and a little to other people) it made me appreciate a little more what I do have. Sure, I don't have everything I want. But all things considered I do have it pretty good. I wish the Icelandic girl, and anyone else reading this, good luck and better fortune than they have now.



LadyLitBlitzin said...

Wow, what a poignant story. (And, I might add, quite a piece of synchronicity.)

I have known plenty of drama queens (both male and female) in my life and they are exhausting. Of course things are exciting around them... until you slowly realize that they're only exciting because they create their own problems and then, oftentimes, they suck the energy out of everybody else in their lives.

It is good to have a blast from the past like that, though, when you can suddenly look at your own life, and like you said, realize that you've got it pretty good after all. (And thank god you're not one of her ex-husbands, eh?)

Jen said...

Yeah, I totally believe in synchroncity. I don't always understand what it means for me, but the lesson is always there should you need to come back to it.

I tire of drama queens as well. Their worst attribute, IMO, is their refusal to take responsibility for anything. It's always someone else's fault. If they took ownership of their lives so much bad shit wouldn't happen to them, but then they wouldn't get all the attention they crave, either.

Hebdomeros said...

Lord, I can't imagine being married to her. She'd probably drive me crazy. And I mean that literally.

I agree. Drama queens often don't take responsibility for their choices. Part of it's a way to get attention/love as well, I think. I feel fortunate that all things considered, my life is pretty calm.