Tag Archives: waiting

The Next Day


A few weeks ago, my tire all but blew out on I-95. Seventy-five miles per hour in the far left lane and the car started swerving left, right, left.

You pray for a miracle when that happens.

Please, God, find a space for me in the next lane, and the next lane, and the next lane. Please, God, just get me to the shoulder.

And then, you find yourself sitting two feet from a rumble strip, a thin patch of tar between you and the passing cars.

You pray for their attention. You pray for their carefulness. You pray for their sobriety.

Please, God, don’t let somebody clip us from behind. Please, God, don’t let us die because somebody, somewhere behind us, didn’t see the stopped car on the side of the road in the dead of the night with the wind and rain whipping around us.

We prayed hard that night.

We sat quiet in the space between one exit sign and the next, the flashers fizzling out behind us, those dimming red sparks holding on just long enough for the tow truck driver to pull in front of us and light up the road like a football stadium on a Saturday night.

It’s one of those moments where you think, “If I can just get through this, I’ll do whatever you want me to do. I’ll floss more. I’ll run more. I’ll take out the trash sooner. I’ll hold open more doors and read more library books and hug more strangers. Whatever it is, I’ll do it. Just let me get through this.”

I turned to my future mother-in-law that night, and I said the only helpless, true thing there is to say: “I’d really like to marry your son. I’d just really like to do that.”

Because when you sit in a car in the dark of night, two feet from trucks trekking down the road, you’re not sure anymore. You’re not sure you have control. You’re not sure you’ll get out. You’re not sure there’s anything you can do to feel better.

I imagine it’s a little less dramatic than the way the people felt on the Titanic. But it’s that utter hopelessness that keeps you from crying – you laugh, you sigh, you sit and wait. You shiver when you roll the window down. You sip iced tea. You cannot do any more anyway.

The true test comes the next day, and the next day, and the next day, when you’re not trapped two feet from trucks, and you still want to say those same words:

I’d really like to marry your son.

Some days, I stop and think about where I landed in this life. And I can’t help but acknowledge that my future is a miracle.

She sat on the side of her own metaphorical highway once – helpless, feeling utterly lost. She had lost her baby girl that night. But she decided to try again, to have a new baby, and that baby grew up to fall in love with the girl in the front seat of that shaking old car, the tire steaming and smoking and burning behind her. That baby grew up, against all odds, and made some girl really, really happy.

So that she could say, “I’d really like to marry your son.”

And she is. And she will.

We're all sitting, waiting, wishing. Not just Jack Johnson.

A girl once told me we’re all waiting for something. And at the time, I thought that was great. It felt like she had just handed over the secret to happiness or something equally significant. Why, though? It meant that I wasn’t alone. That I wasn’t the only one holding out or crossing my fingers or making the same birthday wish every time I blew out the candles.

Just recently, I thought back to that idea of waiting, hoping and wishing. Jack Johnson thinks its okay, so it must be, right?

Depends what you’re sitting, waiting, wishing for.

Sure, it’s okay to sit and wait and wish on a person. Anyone is entitled to that. I’m guilty of it, and I know a lot of other people who also are. What it’s not okay to do is think that suddenly, someone is going to figure you out when you’re not being who you say you are. You not only have to be true to yourself while you wait, but to the people around you. Whatever it is you’re waiting for. A train, the end of a Friday afternoon, a call from someone you love.

“So I guess we are who we are for a lot of reasons. And maybe we’ll never know most of them. But even if we don’t have the power to choose where we come from, we can still choose where we go from there. We can still do things. And we can try to feel okay about them.” – The Perks of Being A Wallflower

If college has taught me anything at all, it’s that I’m not a hundred percent true to myself most of the time. There are two sides to me, depending on who I’m with and where I am. And that’s not fair to me, to anybody, because if (read: when) I decide I want to be who I think I am, and people who think they know me find out they don’t, they’re just going to tell me that’s not Me. That I’m not like that. Whatever “that” is. There’s this big aspect of vulnerability that we skirt around because if we can be something else entirely, a person that others like for the wrong reasons, we don’t have to worry about rejection. We all know what people are looking for, because we’re looking for the same thing, so we take comfort in trying to be that Other Person when in reality, we’re only going to hurt later down the road.

What I’m trying, really trying, to say, is that we shouldn’t wait around for people to like us. If we’re honest from Day One, we wouldn’t have this problem. Tell someone if they’re important to you. If they’re not being true to their heart. If they’re making decisions just to please someone else.

You only get one life in this world. Let it be your own.