I’ve been home sick these last two days. Like, sick-sick. I don’t get sick a lot, and when I’m not sick I almost envy the sick, because they don’t have to go to work and they get to drink juice and watch tv all day. What I forget to keep in mind is that being sick, after the initially kind of enjoyably self-pitying, ‘Oh, I am so sick, woe is me,’ moment of being sick, pretty much sucks.
Brian had whatever this is before I did (thanks, Brian!) but he managed to overcome it without a visit to the doctor. When I asked him how he did it, he said, “Lots of liquids, and lots of rest…and no candy.” He knows me too well.
Speaking of candy, we just missed the Raleigh Donut Run! Where you eat a dozen krispy kreme donuts and then run 6k! Damn it! Why do all the fun, donut-related activities seem to pass me by? I did enjoy that Raleigh’s newspaper, The News & Observer, filed their story about the donut run under “Food & Fitness” when really, it belonged under neither category.
Otherwise, I wouldn’t have found myself wandering down Bloodworth street at 9:30pm, clutching a laptop in my arms (didn’t think to put it in a carrying case, of course), and searching for the parking lot where I’d left my car. Another girl from the meeting I had been at had offered to walk me part of the way, and when we’d parted, I had been sure that my car was in a lot around the corner. But apparently, it had since become a school. And the neighborhood had become dark, and empty.
“I’ll be fine,” I thought, walking rapidly up and down the eerily silent streets, squinting into the darkness. “God protects drunks and children. Last night I was drunk, and now I’m acting like a child.”
A couple of guys shouted at me from across the street. “You having a good time?” they yelled.
I said “Maybe.”
I was reminded of the nights I used to stumble home at 4am through the dark backstreets of Honolulu in a miniskirt and flip flops, usually talking on my cellphone (it was still 10pm on the Mainland!). I remembered getting lost coming home from CBGB in lower Manhattan in high-school, feeling unusually frightened and vulnerable in fishnets and army boots.
Brian and I have occasionally butted heads about what I consider to be his overprotectiveness. I’ll call him as I’m walking home from somewhere late at night, and he’ll splutter, “I can’t believe you’re out this late by yourself! Get a cab right now!” That’s also my mother’s mantra. “Don’t take the subway home if you leave the party late,” she told me, night after night. “Just take a cab.” I loathed spending the money, and — I know this is sad– doing the math to calculate a tip. I just really hate math, particularly money-related math, under pressure. And I like walking. So I rarely take cabs.
In Honolulu a friend was furious when he found out that I frequented a certain sketchy downtown bar without him. “You go to the Hideaway by yourself?” he exploded. “Please don’t ever go to that place without me.” I was indignant. “I’ll go anywhere I want to go by myself,” I said, feeling resentful. I knew he spoke out of a desire to protect me; that he didn’t mean to imply that I was incapable of taking care of myself. He trusted me; it was the rest of the world he didn’t trust. But still.
Sometimes it feels like there is a fine line between independence and self-reliance, and using common sense to avoid putting yourself in certain situations. On the one hand, you don’t want to spend your life being afraid. On the other hand, strolling around late at night in an unfamiliar neighborhood clutching a laptop is not really a recipe for safety. Maybe I need to work harder at finding that balance.
“The only down side to this temp job I have for you,” the agent said over the phone, “is that you have to pay for parking.” She added that there were certain residential streets I should be able to find parking on– one of them had the word “Blood” in the name. Eep.
I decided to park in a garage for my first day at the job. There was one right around the corner and it was $8 for the whole day. Granted, when you’re making little more than that per hour, it’s a little sad to think about how during one of the hours that you are doing data entry, it’s for the priviledge of parking your car around the corner. The next day, I figured, I’d check out those residential streets.
The next day I did manage to find street parking– it was a ten minute walk to the office, which apparently, is an almost unfathomable distance.
“You parked WHERE?” more than one person said. (Parking is a hot topic of discussion an office full of temps who have to find it). “That’s so far away!” Several people also added, “I never park on the street. I just…wouldn’t do it.”
This left me seized with panic. I love my little car. Ours is a new relationship, but so far it is strong. On my lunch break I scurried back to the parking spot to make sure my car was not on fire or missing doors.
It looked fine to me. The neighborhood also looked fine. It was not the nicest part of town, but, I thought to myself, it was nicer than any neighborhood I have ever lived in since leaving home. I don’t know what everyone is talking about, I thought. My car will be fine.
Several conversations about not parking on the street later, I was less sure again. “I’ve heard that if you leave the building after 7pm, you’re supposed to ask for someone to escort you to your car if it’s in certain neighborhoods,” several people told me. I became alarmed. After all, I am new to this city. There’s a lot I have to learn about Raleigh. Perhaps my attitude so far has been a little on the cavalier side.
What if my car is being broken into…RIGHT NOW? I began to panic. What if my GPS unit is being stolen…AS I SIT HERE ENTERING DATA? I would never find my way home– or anywhere else again, for that matter.
At 6:15 I shot out of work and sped toward where my car was parked, noting with apprehension that it WAS in kind of a shabby neighborhood, now that it was getting late and dark.
When I reached it, my car was surrounded by flashing police cruisers. Although it was fine, the vehicles that had collided on the now almost empty street where I had parked were not fine. Not only that, but there was inexplicably a giant pile of horse droppings in the middle of that street. I hadn’t seen a single horse in Raleigh since I’d been there. I took it as a sign.
Back to the garage.