I rolled into this town I call home many, many years ago…
Everything I owned was packed into a Uhaul, with my car trailered behind. I had rented an apartment sight unseen and had lost my way upon arrival. I remember pulling this atrocity up to the guard gates of a posh country club to ask for directions. I swear I saw the guard’s mouth, “You have GOT to be kidding me” as my brakes squeaked to a halt. Oh yes, it was as bad as you can imagine. I had been driving for two days straight, sleeping in roadside motels and rest stops when I just couldn’t go any further. Not to mention the air conditioner in this fabulous rental truck had stopped working 100 miles North of Jacksonville. So as I rolled down the window and politely asked in my (very heavy) Southern accent how to find my new humble abode, he realized, no, she’s not kidding. This tornado is actually moving into town. Yes, I was moving in and I intended to stay awhile…
Soon after, I was sitting in the apartment complex parking lot crying because as much as I could do myself, I could not finish the move in job single-handedly, a complication I figured I would just resolve when I got here. A few hours of frustration and kicking things later, I begrudgingly allowed the guys that lived two doors down to help with the heavy lifting. It was a theme that would stay with me forever. I like to think I am the only one that can handle the heavy stuff.
So when the first person I really met in this town (minus the lifeguard that offered to take me out as I stood in amazement realizing I actually lived near the beach)looked at me and said, “If there is anything you ever need, you can count on me. Anything.” I took him literally and married him. He lived up to his promise and we relied on each other. Fiercely loyal, we were seldom apart in the early years. But time and divorce change everything, and I remember the very surreal moment when I was moving into a new place solo for the first time in 11 years unpacking boxes thinking, “We’ll I guess I’ll be lifting the heavy stuff alone again.” This time the heavy stuff wasn’t furniture though…
Everyone handles divorce differently and what can seem trivial for one is debilitating for another. Want to know what still brings me to my knees? Completing emergency contact information. For so many years I didn’t have to think twice about this. X was as invaluable as my right hand, and I had a mother-in-law that lived right down the street and never hesitated to be of assistance anytime I called. Maybe my husband couldn’t pickup up the phone during an important business meeting, but if the paramedics called Sheila, she’d arrive at the hospital and put the IV in herself. Divorce changes everything, remember?
Now, with every doctor’s visit or application, I cringe when I’m asked to complete the paperwork. With both siblings living thousands of miles away, I couldn’t really list them as an emergency contact. I know my sister pretty well, and I don’t think she would fly across the Atlantic Ocean to come help me should my laser hair removal go awry. So I started listing close friends as my next of kin. I say “friends,” because being an emergency contact is a big responsibility for someone not related to me. So I opted to spread things out. The particularly responsible are listed on the school contact forms, ones with ample time on their hands are listed for personal maintenance work (I know they can always arrive mid-day and feed me via straw should an overdose of botox occur), and the quintessential worrier will get the alert with my GPS location should a date go horribly wrong and I end up in the trunk of a car.
But what happens if the time comes when I really need someone? I found out recently.
“I need to ask you something big,” I said as my friend answered the phone.
“Will you be my emergency contact should something go wrong with this project? You are the only person I know who would get on a plane and fly across the country to get me. I realize it’s a big responsibility and I’m ok with it if you say no.”
And in her usual logical fashion, my friend said, “Not only would I come get you, do you realize how many other people would too? Sometimes you forget you aren’t alone, you know.”
Wow. I’m not alone.
So for you, for me, and for everyone else that needs a reminder, life is so much easier if we concede that the heavy lifting takes more than just a party of one.
We all get by with a little help from our friends.