Keep It Over Twelve.

I tend to think in absolutes. My therapist says I have a soft spot for “catastrophizing”.

Any situation or interaction, in my mind, will have the worst possible result. This seems to overlap with my opinions of people and my perceived opinions they have about me. Basically this makes my anxiety about any relationship with people magnified and also spiders. Which means dating is a hellscape.

But there are some beautiful, little human interactions I have wrapped up carefully in my memory to remind me that everything isn’t ALWAYS spiders. Like hiding candy in your desk to reach for when you need to taste something other than bitter aggravation. A caramel you pop in your mouth and you close your eyes and let the smooth sugar envelope you .

My very favorite of these happened five or six years ago. I was living in a city that flooded every time it rained and my roommate worked a few blocks over. It was pouring and she asked me to come pick her up in my car.

After I pulled out into the street I knew that I should have told her “tough luck bb” because there was absolutely no way that I was going to be able to get to her or even get back to our house. I drove a small sedan and immediately freaked out about water getting in my engine and flooding my entire life and spiders and dying and everything going to bad bad bad awful.

The road I was driving on was completely flooded, a couple of feet at least. I needed to go one more block to get back to my house but there was no chance my car would make it. I had to pull into a little dead end with three unlit houses. I turned my car around so I could watch the water and see when it went down enough for me to make it through.

A few minutes later another sedan pulled in beside me and we both rolled our windows down and yelled through the rain about how annoying this was. She was in the process of moving out of downtown, clearly the right decision, and had her last load of stuff in the car with her. And then another car pulled in. My car was in the middle so I had both of my windows down and we were all talking each other down. The guy that had been the last to join our ill-fated club said that he was just trying to get to the end of the street because that’s where his weed guy lived and he couldn’t believe we were stuck here.

We probably talked for thirty minutes and the rain stopped so we didn’t have to yell anymore. Together we came up with a plan. One of them had heard somewhere maybe that if you go over 12 miles per hour the water can’t get in your engine and you’ll be fine. We decided that our stoner friend would go first, followed by the poor girl moving, and then me.

He put his car and drive and splashed into the road, giving us a thumbs up as he drove away, yelling “KEEP IT OVER 12 OKAY”

Then she went next and waved as she rolled up her window.

I put my own windows up and steeled myself while I put my car in drive and eased out into the street. I made it down the block and turned onto my street.

Something about that memory is so precious to me. Just the strange nature of interacting with other people who have nothing in common except for their present circumstance. It was a secret glimpse into the universe and it was sweet.

I’ll continue to catastrophize, sorry to my therapist, but sometimes, when I need something sweet, when I need close my eyes and let something good surround me, I’ll take this memory out and I’ll remember to keep going forward.

But also maybe don’t rely on that keep it over 12 thing? Okay? Okay.

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