Empathy June 15th, 2012
the uprooted tree
pieces of me
once caught on the windscreen
free again like a seed
floating in the breeze
exactly what I need
only from here can I see
with such clarity
what can never be
t’was just empathy
lock had its key
it has nothing to do with me
and so finally
I am free
to just be
we can all laugh with glee
along did I carry
on a ride that was free
ending with no more than I need
feels good to breathe
out on my sea
My birthday was on Wednesday. I spent most of that day driving from Amarillo Texas back to Lafayette Colorado after attending Burning Flipside just outside Austin. Amarillo City is a strange place, full of false advertising and unwelcome propositioning, so perhaps overnighting there means you carry some of that strangeness with you when you leave.
So it was I made my way to McDonalds for breakfast and more importantly to use their wifi since my motel didn’t live up to their advertising. A bunch of wonderful people had said a bunch of wonderful things to me on Facebook to brighten my birthday. I was finishing up and about to leave when I noticed a status update pop up from a friend I don’t remember meeting. Next to his smiling Willie Nelson middle finger profile photo were the words:
“I Hope your birthday sucked and it rained giraffe shit all over your parade. Ok, now thats done, everyone else have a great day! I know I will!”
It should be noted this was on his own wall and not directed to anyone and I have no real reason to think it was meant for me. Except it was my birthday this day. And while he used past tense as if the object of his disaffection was born yesterday, I happened to be returning from an event called “Freaky Deaky Time Machine” and furthermore the post office had just notified me essentially that my hold mail request “has expired tomorrow”. So it seemed time was not following normal rules.
While this snarky status update (someone else boldly declared “Rude!”) clearly couldn’t have been meant for me, there was something about it which I felt a mysterious connection to and so it malingered in my mind as I headed north out of Amarillo. After stopping for gas in Dumas, I was at a light waiting to make my left turn to follow highway 87 to New Mexico and noticed the tractor-trailer in front of me was dripping brown liquid. It was one of those trucks to hold livestock. I suppose one might imagine cattle in there. Or dumb asses; maybe that’s what grows in a town called Dumas. Or giraffes, though I imagined their necks getting bent out of shape in the tall-but-not-tall-enough trailer. Wait… wheels turned… must be giraffes… light turned… THAT GIRAFFE SHIT IS GONNA RAIN ALL OVER MY PICKUP IF I DON’T GET AROUND THIS TRUCK BEFORE I GET OUTTA DUMAS!! Luckily there was plenty of double lane road ahead. I didn’t look inside the box, though a trailer full of giraffes surely would have been something to write a blog post about.
I can’t help pondering, now, whether I would have made the connection between dripping brown liquid and that it would rain giraffe shit on me if I didn’t pass, had I not had that snarky post nagging at me that morning? Quite possibly not. But then, I probably would have been well ahead of that giraffe truck had I let the snarkiness slide like water off a duck’s back. Seems like it was meant to be, or not be; maybe that is the answer. Or like Sophie said: It is what it is, and it isn’t what it isn’t.
Continuing on over and up highway 87, I first had a good hearty laugh at how I dodged a dirty disaster. But then I noticed another truck, and another, some birds flying overhead and some giraffe-shaped clouds and I realized the day was still young. I was on renewed alert and thoughts again of the snarky comment started chasing away the laughter and gnawing away at my mood again. In Raton, New Mexico I stopped for lunch and when I went to sit down I heard the song “Laughter in the Rain” in my head. At first this prompted a knee-jerk defensive flash of hostility, only then I realized it came into my head by way of my ears and some speakers. (Now that’s a good golden oldie, how did that not come up when I asked for Rain songs last year?) More importantly, I remembered I in fact avoided getting giraffe shit rained on me and it was me doing the laughing, not being laughed at. This time I won, if only by keeping a negative attitude and not losing.
Still, the day was not over. In spite of Colorado welcoming me with its colorful vistas, the other part of the snarky post about “hope your birthday sucked” started festering and for a little while I was seriously contemplating spending the evening wallowing antisocially at home by myself while trying to make a dent in cleaning up the post-Flipside mess, as a defensive move to avoid potential inevitable further birthday suckiness. But then it dawned on me that letting fear of suckiness win would only guarantee a sucky birthday. It is what it is and it isn’t what it isn’t. Furthermore, it would seem mighty rude of me to let some snarky indirect comment overshadow all the kind wonderful amazingly sticky sweet things all my other friends said to me. Like Greg says, all of my wallowing is unbecoming, and I didn’t want to let friends and family down. So I picked myself up off the floorboard and invited some of my close friends to meet for dinner.
I warned them I was a little cranky and one well-meaning friend did try to rain on my parade a little but I let her know I wasn’t having any of it today. I know she was only trying to help, and she’s right, only she’s wrong, just as am I, but this day I played judge and overruled her.
If there is any point to all of this it is something that was kicking around in my head the previous day anyway, in that you can always say “no thank you” to someone’s manifestation on you. There’s no saying it won’t boomerang back to you later or deflect and hit someone else instead, however. Maybe that’s how this one came my way in the first place. And now some other poor sap in Dumas is wiping giraffe shit off their windshield.
When all was said and not done and the day was over, the only raining I ended up saying “yes please thank you may I have another” was in the form of the myriad toppings sprinkled and hot fudge drizzled over some froyo.
Before someone suggests I was hallucinating again, I’ll have you know that this sort of “that which was written shall come to pass, but those Rainy Day wipers were never meant to last*” thing has in fact happened to me before. Frequently it involves weather. Sometimes I wonder if I’m not some sort of figment of Hitchhiker’s Guide author Douglas Adams’ manifestation, namely the lorry-driving (that’s British for tractor-trailer) Rob McKenna, aka the Rain God. He had 231 types of rain. I’ve started my own tally, I’ve probably missed a few, but I figure I’m up to at least 14 now.
*About the wipers quote: Last summer I bought Rainy Day brand windshield wipers and the guy at the counter helpfully warned me they wouldn’t last very long. I shared this with the world and my friend Jean had said then that I should write a poem about it, I tried but really only came up with that sad excuse of a two-liner above. Meanwhile, I finally replaced those Rainy Day wipers just before my Texas adventure, and found that the helpful guy was in fact correct, for they are now branded as Rain Guard wipers. Wonder if they are improved to withstand giraffe rain.