The first walk around my neighborhood in three months reveals what I had suspected: any sign of spring is way underground. My sycamores are still skeletal. The locusts are still wearing a few of their blackened seed pods, like they forgot to take off their eyeliner after a great party. Everywhere I looked for a bud or a smudge of green, I came up with nothing.
Thursday, one of the front wheels on my car screamed every time I turned right. Metal scraped metal and joints protested. It was sort of like the noise Westley makes when he’s being tortured by The Machine in “The Princess Bride” (according to Inigo, “the sound of ultimate suffering”). I have an elderly car. It was not until Saturday evening that I accepted the noise was real and ran the appropriate google searches. Yes, I agreed with Google: this is a CV joint (it was a lower arm control, actually, you know the CV joints are on the back, doing nothing, and the front wheels need to steer, duh).
In the hierarchy of my mental and emotional suffering, car trouble ranks high. When I have a physical illness, at least I can drink juice and go to bed early. With car trouble, it takes money, phone calls for rides, and time. Not being able to go where I want when I want throws me completely off balance. Trapped! I spent Saturday evening and a chunk of Sunday morning worrying about my car, if I should drive it at all, and what car to buy to replace it.
I complained a great deal about my car trouble, both inside my own head and to a couple of people who were kind enough to listen. It’s almost as if I want to verify the legitimacy of my stress. It’s not really legitimate. I had some food and books and movies and coffee at home. Plenty of people, even in our small city, get around without cars. Some by choice, some by circumstance, and I know they’re not as spazzed out as me.
In addition to this car crap, Le Corbusier and I had a falling out. I finished the New York City documentary I mentioned in an earlier post. The last episode explains how Manhattan almost got gutted by Robert Moses in his Le Corbusier trance. I had no idea someone tried to build a highway across Manhattan. The lack of cars in Manhattan, the primacy of pedestrians, is what makes it so intense and fun and free. I was sad because Le Corbusier has a great name, and he wears those classic architect glasses, and I love modernism. I’m a very modern (and hardly post-modern) type. It’s so unfortunate that we have to be enemies.
I know it’s not the car thing that is hurting me. It’s a lack of control and a lack of patience. I might as well stroll around my neighborhood and worry about the trees budding. When will they start? How can we persuade them? What about the one with the ice damage? How can we get it to resurrect? What kind of prayer or fertilizer or fruit juice will heal my broken car? I’m afraid that maybe I like my healthy eating, exercise, and religious rituals because they make me feel more in control. (“I will feel better if I just….”)
There is movement toward spring on a day like today, one of the first days people walk at a leisurely pace, have conversations over fences. The warmth of today is waking the trees slowly. First they must be warmed and fed with sun, and then, when they feel safe, they will peek out at night. One morning we will wake up, and not even notice the new crumb of green on our very own trees, out our very own windows. Are all the trees worried about how this spring will go, and how their leaves will turn out this year, and if someone will cut them down? Well, they don’t look worried to me.