It's Becoming Clear

When you wake up and your cold still hasn't gone away, there's a lot of room for interpretation. Sometimes, as in my case on Tuesday, it's undeniably gotten worse, and you're not the least bit tired but still feel incapable of getting up, and the inside of your head feels like a miniature diorama of a putrid medieval bog.

But later on in the process, you've always got the option of believing you're improving. That's what I did, yesterday morning, when I woke up to the familiar swampy sinus syndrome and got right up out of bed anyway.

There's always that initial burst of clarity, for me at least, at suddenly being upright, and I enjoy the familiar, elevated view from six feet up, as opposed to three. "I'm king of all I survey!" is the basic feeling I'm describing here.

I tried to ride this feeling out as long as I could, of course -- making the coffee, pouring the cereal... I even heated up my Frosted Mini Wheats in the microwave, because it seemed self-nurturing and Mom told me they're good that way. They are.

And when I looked over, several minutes later, at Penny's sleepy eyes and Vince's eager face, I had to say, "Okay, sure" and go take him for a walk.

Time was a little tight, and I had to leave for work pretty soon, but with Vince's latest gastrointestinal distresses (don't ask) we've pretty much instituted a You-Want-A-Walk-You-Get-A-Walk, Now Policy. I stuffed the plastic bag into my pocket, pulled on a hat and the two of us trotted out onto the frosty grass.

Twelve minutes later we were heading back in, bag still empty, but having thoroughly watered several of the neighbors' mailbox posts.

I reported to Penny that it definitely is pretty cold outside, and headed to the bathroom to go brush my teeth. Vince curled up on his dog bed in the living room. Two minutes until departure and I'm doing okay; if I can just grab my keys, wallet and phone and be out the door, I'll be on time for our daily company meeting.

Okay. The car windows are all frosted over. But not completely; there are definite openings where a person could theoretically see out, and this is good, because I lack both the time to scrape the windshield and, well, a scraper. I optimistically left all our implements of snow-battle in Indiana when we moved down here to South Carolina.

But that's okay. I'm out on the road in good time, rolling a little cautiously until the engine warms up enough to get the defrosters blowing, peering through a few square inches of clear glass at the upcoming bends in the road and oncoming traffic. This is working. I try using the windshield washer squirter things, but the fluid just freezes on the glass in a bluish haze. I concentrate on my few square inches.

However, when I turn right on to the main road leading into town, going -- you guessed it -- East, the sun hits the windshield and turns to a brilliant pane of impenetrable yellow light. I'm blind.

And there are cars in front of me, and coming behind me, and even beside me, since this is a fairly major road, and it's the middle of rush hour. I frantically poke my head around the cabin at different angles, squinting mightily and looking for any peephole that might reveal the road ahead.

After a couple of seconds, I give up and desperately click the button to roll down the driver's side window.

I'm cruising down Highway 1 now, 50 miles an hour, 8:15 am, 20 degrees out, with my head out the window. A guy driving next to me in a gleaming sedan, talking on his bluetooth headset, looks over at me, gawks, and immediately breaks eye contact.

As I struggle to breathe in the icy wind (inhaling is easy -- exhaling, almost impossible) and navigate eastward toward work, it crosses my mind: "Oh man. I'm *that guy.*"

But after a mile or so, the engine is warming and the windshield is clearing. I lean back inside the car and try to resume breathing normally. Okay. Running about a minute late for work now, but maybe they'll get the meeting started a little behind schedule, for once. Okay. Warming up.

It wasn't until I went to roll the window back up and heard only a sickening "click... click" sound from the switch that I really admitted the day was off to a bad start. It must have been the cold, or something, but the pane of glass would not budge from its resting place down in the door panel.

I drove along in the 20-degree morning air, with a clear view of the road ahead and an even clearer view of the road beside me, saying to myself, "No, Colin. You were wrong before. You're actually *this* guy."

The guy with no car window and a dog with diarrhea, squinting in the sun and running late for a meaningless meeting.

Here's what I did, though, and I think I'd recommend it. I forced myself to laugh at it, a little bit. I was careful not to laugh too loud there, in the car, as I heard my tone of voice getting a little boomy and bitter, ("You've GOT to be kidding me!" I bellowed, loud enough for bluetooth man to hear) but when I was able to keep it to a soft chuckle, realizing that the situation really is funny, and the meeting really is stupid, (which it was), I was able to step outside myself for a second.

I think I physically said the words, out loud, "Well, low point of the day, most likely" and turned on the radio.

And truth be told, lots of other bad stuff happened that day, yesterday, and I don't even want to go into them. It's not worth it. What I'm saying is that I *thought* the day would improve from there, truly *believed* it would (how could it not?) and it did.

Call it a placebo effect, this tendency to start getting over your cold more or less when you think you're getting over your cold, or call it manifestation or self-fulfilling prophecy or whatever. All I know is that it works, kind of, and goodness knows there's a need for it.

Oh, and a few miles down the road I tried the car window again, and it worked.


Anonymous said...

I just responded to this blog under the previous one (about the Chevy-to-the-levee). Check it out.

Love and hugs

Anonymous said...

Tell me the window's operational again... poor Alero...

Anonymous said...

Don't worry, Tom... it's feeling much better now that the weather's improved. Still not sure I trust the passenger-side one, though.