It used to be hard to be grumpy on a really gorgeous October day, and yesterday was a seriously pretty day today; the sun was sort of soaking through the trees, the clouds looked like you could sit in them, and the breeze really was gentle. Hard to be grumpy on a day like that, but this guy on Fort Hunt Road gave me the finger.

I don’t know what his problem with me was. I did not pull out in front of him, I was not driving recklessly or–even more annoying–too slow, so his angry face when he passed me, and the bird he flipped me were a surprise. Did he think I was someone else? Some other forty-something woman in a blue minivan with the stickers of my childrens’ schools on the back–someone who wronged him? Then it occurred to me maybe the stickers themselves ticked him off, or the two above it that represent, in four-inch circles, the service my husband served in and a lobby group that fights for second amendment rights. Yeah…that might do it. 

Still, there I was just driving along in a nine-year-old minivan, listening to my eclectic little Spotify playlist that alternates between Dirks Bently and Dubussey, John Legend and Johnny Cash, hoping the car wouldn’t stall out because it does that sometimes. Our mechanic can’t figure out why. Then this guy zooms up behind me, awfully close, and when I get in the turn lane at 7-11 so I can buy my secret Diet Coke for later, I happen to look to my right and he’s glaring. At me. Middle finger straight up.

So that set the tone for my day. The car didn’t stall out but everything else went wrong. Okay not everything but some things. I was suddenly aware of annoying stuff: the teenagers were having a “distance-learning” school day, which just means watching a broadcast of school on a screen for seven hours, followed by at least three hours of homework on a screen. I left them at home, already bored and restless at nine-thirty AM. Plus I was heading in to work to deal with some emails of people who are frustrated with me for something I had no control over at all, but am responsible for. Plus the stupid car that stalls. Plus I have Lyme, which is an ongoing battle that involves not feeling good. Plus the stupid election that’s making everybody crazy and mean, plus the stupid pandemic. Plus, I hate my kitchen countertops, and this was bugging me deep down I’m sure of it. The guy flipping me off just sort of solidified that it was going to be a bad day, despite the turquoise sky. 

But here’s the thing: I had a job to go to, and it kept me busy doing something for a cause bigger than me. Then I came home with achy finger joints–stupid Lyme–but there was my youngest, baking chocolate cookies, blasting High School Musical from the stereo, or whatever we now call the thing that used to be called a stereo. (I literally don’t know what to call it. It is like a TV but plays music through all kinds of platforms my children have accounts to, but does not actually play TV shows, if such a thing exists anymore.) The smell of baking chocolate and the fact that the HSM soundtrack is enjoying something of a revival released a little more serotonin, and then she said hey, let’s make that taco soup for dinner. I threw some stew meat in the instant pot and she did the rest with me coaching (always add more cumin than the recipe calls for) and it turned out really good. I took a walk with Husband, who has some big frustrations of his own right now but is good to talk to, and we laughed at the weird house in our neighborhood and some things that happened at work and he was pretty decent company. And later, since the fifteen-year-old wants to watch The Office but I insist on watching with her so we can skip past the raunchy episodes, we watched that one where Jim doesn’t take the New York job and finally asks Pam out for dinner. I still like it so much I about cried. And then, the seventeen-year-old, who is Mister Fitness right now, showed me how to lift some weights in the basement, and somehow it ended up with me laughing so hard I couldn’t speak and him laughing that I was laughing, and my heart swelled up with fondness for him.

So that just proves, you never know. You wake up on the wrong side of the bed or a guy flips you off and it all starts to go down hill, but a few hours later you are laughing and having a great day. Today started out pretty good, but it might suck by lunch time, but then things might pick up. I’ll call both the college kids later, and that is something to look forward to. I’ll make something that smells good for dinner, maybe take some to the neighbor a few doors down who lives alone. Maybe take another walk. Maybe those cute little kids that live one street over will be out playing; the little boy kicks around a soccer ball that’s bigger than he is while the little girls try to boss him around and make him pretend to be this or that. I love hearing their high-pitched chatter while the sky gets all pink and dusky. Or maybe those darling, awkward middle school kids will be shooting hoops on the school playground next to the yellow sign that says NO ENTRANCE; their little rebellion makes me smile. Maybe Husband and I will watch something good and maybe the teenagers will want to hang out, or maybe I’ll drink earl gray decaf out on the back porch and read. That’s the thing; there’s so many maybes. You just have to grab them when they float by.