>On the way home from a lovely weekend visit with Alex Elliot & family, Steph, Husband, and I discussed cars that our parents had driven when we were kids. Steph mentioned a Cadillac Eldorado that her dad lusted after and finally purchased after years of motoring around in Toyotas, only to have it sit around in the garage after they drove it from Pennsylvania to Disney World one summer. Husband said that his dad installed an 8 track machine so that he could listen to Sesame Street songs in the sensible sedans they drove. I talked about the Bobcat debacle.
I am not sure when my dad bought the Mercury Bobcat two door hatchback or why, but by the summer of 1984, the air condition no longer worked and the driver's side door didn't close properly. (The driver had to pull the door up while yanking it closed, or it would pop back open.) The car had four bucket seats, making it inappropriate for car pooling, and yet my mom inherited it. I fondly recalled sitting on the fuzzy light blue "hump" with no seat belt in the back between the two bucket seats while we sat sweltering in traffic jams on the way to my allergist appointments. The Cubs game blared over the radio. That was probably the best summer I ever had.
As I regaled Steph and Husband with my tale of the Bobcat, I realized that not only was that a great summer, but it was probably the last time I was ever consistently happy. When I went back to school, none of my friends were in my class. I had a horrific asthma attack while running in gym, and was sent to the hospital via ambulance. After that, I wasn't allowed to exert myself in gym, so by the end of third grade, just when I was sliding into early adolescence, I lost touch with my friends, stopped exercising and gained weight, and hid in books.
In fourth grade, I experienced my first bouts of depression, gained more weight, and failed a test in school for the first time. (I got a 49% on a fractions exam.) From then on, it was low self-esteem, and increasing frustration as I began to understand what a horribly unfair place the wider world was. Suddenly, it mattered that I didn't live in a nice house or wear trendy jeans. At the same time, I knew that millions of people had it worse than me, and I was lucky.
Almost 25 years after I cheered for the Cubs with all my heart while my mom hoped that we wouldn't get into a car accident that would send me straight through the windshield, it vexes me to realize that no matter what I attempt to do to improve my situation and be happy, I'll never have the same constant satisfaction with life. Sure, I'm happy at times - and frequently - but underneath it all is the frustration that I can't balance what I want. I can't find a combination of paid work, writing, education, leisure, family, friends, exercise, etc. that satisfies me. It's always too much of something, leaving me stressed, anxious, and worried. And yet I know I've got it good, making me feel guilty for not being happier. The hump on which I perched so cheerfully is long gone, leaving me without a vehicle to get where I should go.* Maybe the summer that the Cubs finally deliver is when it will all come together for me, too.**
*How's that for a metaphor?
**Of course, I happen to think that a Cubs World Series victory is a sign of the apocalypse, but that's another story.