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Friday, August 21, 2009

Anger, knitting, and state of mind

If I cover my anger with a knit scarf, can you still see me seething?
--Nicole Freire
I have to admit, this entry will have very little to do with actual knitting, although I'll throw in some gratuitous funny hat double-knitting pictures at the end. But as I was thinking about writing, I google-searched 'knit' and 'anger' together, and got this. Love it.

Most of this entry, however, is about Six Flags, to which place I traveled yesterday with my young son. It was a hot, muggy day. Tempers flared. I reflected. I also had a very long moment of peace, lasting nearly all of our 11 hours or so of travel and frivolity.

On our way there, we were caught in traffic. We stopped. I checked Facebook, tried to get a traffic report, and played a mediocre game of Bubble Breaker on my phone before handing it off to my son for amusement purposes. My radio did not work, because my antenna broke off for the second time quite a while ago, and it basically now picks up only NPR, and that only when we're really close to home. No way out in Charlton. And I'd forgotten my iPod. But still I was philosophical about the whole thing. "Are we there yet?" my son asked, numerous times. "No," I said, "we are stuck in traffic." There was nothing I could do. Getting off would have accomplished nothing--there was no exit except for the rest stop, which was frighteningly full of people trying to wait out the traffic. So I crept forward.

Now, I drive a standard-transmission car. I love it, unless I am stuck in traffic. Then it means that every time the traffic edges forward, I have to depress the clutch, ease the car into gear, coast a few feet, and reverse the process. So occasionally I let the car ahead of me get a couple of car lengths away before I move. Am I holding up traffic? NO! I say, because once I engage the clutch-shift into gear-move forward-shift out of gear I will once again stop short and wait for the traffic to move again. Might someone come in ahead of me? Yes, it could be. Will this affect my ultimate emergence from the traffic jam? Minimally if at all.

Yet the gentleman (I use the term loosely) behind me apparently disagreed. I hesitated before moving forward, and he honked his horn repeatedly and quite loudly, and a glance into my rear-view mirror showed me that he was gesticulating in a very uncomplimentary manner at me. His un-love was flowing out of his car into mine, and I got hot under the collar. I contemplated getting out of my car the next time we stopped (oh, right now! see, we moved, we stopped!) and asking him to keep his hate to himself. But then I thought about how he might run me over or punch me, and I kept my aggravation to myself, and at the very next chance I changed lanes (something I rarely do in a traffic jam) and moved ahead a few cars to get out of the aura of his anger.

By the time I pulled back into my lane I could see the cause of the back-up: some poor person's car was smacked up against the guard rail, facing in the opposite direction to that which the rest of us were traveling, with a very large tire wedged into the dent that had previously been the passenger side door. He was standing on the side of the road with a police officer, unharmed as far as I could tell, making a cell phone call. I found details here.

So we went on to Six Flags. And as I said, it was hot and muggy, and people were sweating and dumping water on themselves. D wanted to go on "Pandemonium," I think to see me scream. I told him I'd do it with him once. :) The line wasn't too bad--about 40 minutes. Most of it was in the shade. About halfway through our wait I had the beginning of the lovely moment that comprised the rest of my day. I realized that I could turn off my discomfort. I could not turn off the sweat--that was trickling stickily down my chin and neck and getting my shirt all wet. What I could turn off was the feeling of irritation that so often accompanies feeling too hot. I discovered that it wasn't enough to not think about the heat: I had to concentrate reasonably hard on feeling cool and comfortable.

But it wasn't the kind of concentrating where you're screaming at yourself: I'm not going to feel hot, I'm not going to get upset!!! It is, I admit, rather difficult to describe. As long as I kept that feeling of cool, comfortable, and happy at the corner of my conscious mind, I remained that way. I only got upset with D once all day--and that was when he completely ignored me when I was trying to call him out of a water fountain. I didn't get upset until the fifth or sixth time he didn't respond when I called. :( And then after that, I was back to that beautiful happy place once again.

I'm not there this morning. I'm hot and sticky and thinking about it. I need a shower. I'm looking forward to a day of being hot and sticky and doing laundry and cleaning, and it isn't making me happy at all. So now I just have to figure out how to get that happy place back again. Perhaps after I shower. :)

Double Knitting little hat points: