Sunday, October 10, 2021

Anxious People

Sometimes I get to the end of the week and I want to write about the things I've been thinking about over the course of the week, but all of the things are things I'm not sure I should write about. Because they're personal, but also, because they belong, at least partly, to other people. A birthday, a wedding, a rift in a relationship that feels un-mendable, maybe forever this time,

or maybe not. It's hard to tell how much we are capable of forgiving each other. 

In the book Anxious People, by Fredrik Backman, a desperate person tries to rob a bank, and on the run, ends up in the middle of an apartment showing, waving a gun, inadvertently taking the prospective buyers hostage, and it all spirals out of control from there. The bank robber is an idiot, the author tells us on the very first page. And the people in the apartment are all idiots too.  

Okay, the birthday, that I can write about. It's my son's and it's today and of course I'm nostalgically thinking about the day he was born and how crazed with anxiety I was, that weird moment in the hospital when I was dazed with pain and suddenly deciding that maybe I didn't want to Do This anymore--have a baby--and at the same moment, understanding on a visceral level that I didn't have any control over the matter. The baby was coming out whether I wanted him to or not. A good lesson

for the future. Say, for example, today, when he is a grown man and living on the opposite side of the country and off the grid, climbing some mountain, literally, and all my husband and I can do is send him another version of a Please Let Us Know You Are Okay gift-- the last one being a satellite phone and this time, a special radio, specifically an "Emergency Radio Hand Crank Solar Weather Radio NOAA Alert 5000mAh AM/FM/SW Portable Battery Operated Radio 5 Way Powered with LED Flashlight, SOS Alarm, Cellphone Charger for Outdoor Emergency." 

The wedding. Okay the wedding. Which I promise you I am excited about despite the fact 

that our daughter has hired a wedding planner, and everyone knows that we— her father and I— are notorious Do It Yourself-ers, to the point of absurdity sometimes, climbing on the roof to paint the house and unclogging our own drainpipes and dismantling koi ponds. Also, if I am being completely honest with you, and I am, always, being completely honest with you, 

my only model of a wedding planner is Franck in the 1991 movie Father of the Bride starring Steve Martin, Diane Keaton and Martin Short, and doesn’t my daughter know those wedding planner people are always trying to upcharge you and the next thing you know Franck has rented a flock of swans to scurry around in your backyard? 

(For the record, I have come around to the wedding planner, who is not played by Martin Short and seems very nice and may actually really help with all of our my anxiety.) 

The un-mendable rift I still can't write about and maybe I never will or who knows. The people in the book Anxious People are all anxious about things they can't control and many things they can, but it's hard sometimes to see the difference between the two, especially when it's buried under all of that anxiety.

By the end of the book I was crying and rooting for them, those idiots who don't know they are idiots, those silly humans just doing the best they can. 

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