Sunday, September 20, 2009

Beating Stress by Breaking Windows

Here it is, finally: the slightly-exaggerated account of the havoc I wreaked at Tan & Tone America last June!


I write this for your benefit, since your parents have probably told you what they always told me, and haven’t told you what they never told me:

My parents always told me, “Don’t try to handle everything yourself; it’ll only make you tired and emotional!”

My parents never told me, “Don’t drive through the front of a tanning salon when you’re tired and emotional!”

I’d like to blame their lack of forthrightness for the hundreds of shattered, bluish shards of glass that surrounded my car, and the theatrical obliteration of three glass panels that were once the windows of Tan & Tone America.

I suppose I could blame my parents for several other key things; for instance, that they never told me that planning an extravagant wedding makes a woman want to rip her hair out, or that it’s very unproductive for a woman to lie awake with eyes glued to the ceiling until 4 a.m., pondering the course of her life, or that a woman can have this many things on her mind at once, or that she shouldn’t try to juggle all of them by herself. I was nine months engaged to the most amazing man on the planet; ironically, I was still trying to go it alone.

That morning, my mind couldn’t seem to fixate on anything except my aloneness, and how completely and utterly unprepared I felt to become a wife—a wife!—at twenty years old. I have a bad habit of trying to be perfect in a particular skill or trait before I ever encounter the circumstance where I’ll need it. I was frustrated that I could not perfect myself into the wife every man dreams of that morning, so I decided to go perfect baking myself at the tanning salon, instead.

I hardly knew which gear I put the car into when I climbed in and turned the key. The sun was not bright white enough yet to warm the air, which teased me with early chill. “What time is it?” I asked myself, wonderingly. I should have been wondering what in the name of Alfred Angelo I was doing going to Tan & Tone America half-dressed in a sports bra, t-shirt and shorts, makeup running from the day before, not even aware what hour it was I was going to stumble in like a haggard urchin. “Please, sir, may I ‘ave some ‘ore…tanning lotion?”

So there I was, my own worst nightmare, at large on the road. My eyes still glazed over from sporadic bouts of sleep, my mind fuzzy and unfocused on reality, my emotions spilling over with repressed stress, I reached Tan & Tone America and readied myself to park in my regular spot, a space over from the door in front of the floor-to-ceiling storefront windows.

My brain picked this moment to rebel against the injustice I had done it, and sent its verdict to my foot, which also found me very guilty. My foot hit the accelerator instead of the brake—hard. Before I knew what was happening, I was flying wildly over the curb, crashing violently into metal bars and glass, which was raining on all sides of me. The world looked like a slow-motion scene from The Matrix before I came to a stop, the focus of three dumbfounded pairs of eyes.

Thirty minutes later, trying to respond to the good-natured jests of the ladies at Tan & Tone America, nestling in the comforting arms of my fiancé, I decided it was time for me to stop trying to perform when I had nothing left; to not try to handle everything myself. I decided it was time to just let someone take care of and love me.

Learn from my mistake, dear reader: when life becomes too overwhelming and you just need to crash, crash into the arms of someone who loves you, not into the front of your local tanning salon.

1 comment:

  1. Jaimie. I love you. That you can write this story threaded with humor and good sense is a credit to your character and to God. I'm so glad you're in PW; you are a great writer.

    Have you considered an advice column for a magazine (not answering questions, but something just like this post)?


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