Yesterday, I began the thirty-day writing challenge talking about what life was life twenty years ago for me. This is the second installment along that road and today’s topic is rainy days.
Unsurprisingly, given that I am still trapped in the hateful land of the United Kingdom with no hope of escape in the near future, it is raining, as it always is. In fact, there is ice falling from the sky as I write this but I would think of that as rain. It is painfully cold, even inside, with the damp and wind penetrating through poorly-constructed buildings and people in this place being uninterested in anything that makes life better, only things that cause immediate pleasure.
I have two memories that come to mind about exceptionally rainy and memorable days. One of them, I’ve already written about in my first book, actually, as a short story about my grandfather. I will probably tell the real story behind that story at some point but, as the other I have never addressed in public writing before and this is intended to be an exercise in either public writing or public humiliation — I’m not absolutely sure which yet — I shall share the other, as it portrays me in a far less gentle light.
I was visiting one of my closest friends in the middle of a fall rainstorm. It was only four or five in the afternoon but it was so wet and cloudy it felt like late in the evening. We were sitting around the table playing a board game, although I can’t remember which one — might have been Carcassonne or Catan. For that matter, it could have been Monopoly but I doubt I’d have put myself in such a boring situation as that without some serous persuasion — I have some truly odd and partially traumatic memories about playing Monopoly as a child with some people from my neighborhood and things getting rather awkwardly rough. While I was there, they got a call from another friend, another person I was very close to, saying that they weren’t going to be able to come and join us because they’d decided to go off-roading for the afternoon, which was planned, and gotten stuck when the rain turned the trail into a lagoon, which they had then tried to drive through. Unsuccessfully. Their truck was now summarily sunk and they were sitting in it, door-deep in mud. I could easily imagine the situation and I have had a similar experience — in my case, it was mid-door snow, actually, and it took an off-road digger nearly an hour to get my Jeep out of the snow that time but that’s a story for another day. Anyway, my friend being possessed of only a car but me having an old but reliable pickup truck with plenty of towing ability and off-road tires, we set off in my vehicle to yank the sadly-sunken truck out of its predicament.
When we got there, though, we were immediately met by two things — one was the general doubt of both occupants of the mud-lodged Jeep that we would have any luck whatever and that we simply didn’t know what we were doing. Ok, that I didn’t know what I was doing, as my car-driving friend was perfectly happy with admitting that her knowledge of such things was minimal and that she was mostly just along for the entertainment value of watching the progress. I still offered to be helpful, getting tow cables out. The second thing we were met with, however, was a person I later found was a family friend who had been asked to come to do the job that we had gone to do. It appeared that they were not the only people who believed that we wouldn’t be capable of rescuing the drowning pickup. Realistically, it wasn’t nearly as thoroughly stuck as I had imagined. They were likely far more gentle about off-road driving than I tend to be, as I’d likely have dumped the think far more deeply into a problem situation, given that opportunity. That aside, though, I tried my best to offer my assistance as my abilities and helpfulness were ignored but nobody noticed — nor accepted. Everyone else had a great time there and I stood and smiled. When it came time to leave, I said I was exhausted and had to head home, at which point I drove to a nearby parking area and cried for awhile. Ok, I cried for longer than what is typically associated with “awhile” but I didn’t keep track of the time. I just know that when I got home it was late, I was, indeed, exhausted, and people were rather worried that I had disappeared for awhile.
Anyway, this was a long time ago — probably about ten years, really, now that I think of it. And I have been intentionally vague about some of it, as even now it is quite possible that some of the people involved might feel either guilty or betrayed by the story. More importantly, if I was specific about more than that, other people who I’m fairly sure read at least some of my writing from time to time, although they weren’t actually there, probably know who was and I don’t want anyone to get hurt or be judgmental about things. I honestly don’t think anyone was trying to cause me pain, even though it has been a story that has kept me up many nights in tears in the intervening years.
The story does somewhat have a moral, although it may not be obvious to anyone reading this who is more neurotypical than me. For someone like me, though, if you ask for help, you’re going to get help if I am at all capable of it. And I won’t give up. I want you to ask for help and I’ll be completely honest about whether I can or can’t. If I make that commitment, though, all I ask is that you do two things — first, let me actually give you the help that I’ve promised. Second, don’t give up part way through. If you’re not going to see things through, don’t ask me to walk half way down a road with you because I’m going to keep going after you’ve given up and the whole thing will just make everyone feel miserable and, quite possibly, you’ll get annoyed. I am not an angry person. But I am easily hurt and I get confused by people who change their minds or lose interest in things. This isn’t directed at anyone, really. Actually, it’s not really about me at all. It’s more for anyone reading to perhaps give some thought to how they deal with “help”. I suspect there are far more people who are deeply hurt by those who refuse to ask them for help when it would definitely be offered, those who ask for help and then turn it down before it can actually come to anything, or those who give up on things before they’re finished. I have no doubt that many more such situations will continue to hurt me in my life and I know I will have to live with that. I’m not angry at anyone who causes me pain, just sad.
So there you have it, a story from a rainy day that ended in a wet-faced evening and many teary nights. The whole thing will probably sound incredibly silly to most people who are reading it and I suspect there will be some judgment of me as being something — controlling? judgmental? weak? obsessive? I’m not sure but I promise you I will hear some of those things in the next day or two about it. But that’s the risk I run for sharing, I guess. Anyway, until next time.