Letting go day 6: The neighborhood circus

Piddly stuff has set me off lately. The dogs taking a dump in the living room, Slade throwing pebbles on the sidewalk I just swept, the toll road company sending us a bill that we’ve already paid. I clench and curse quietly about all this minor drama that doesn’t matter.

I tell myself exactly that, that it doesn’t matter, but I’m still pissed off. My insides are still a fist.

How do I let it go? How do I laugh and breathe deeply and enjoy the strange scenery of a life off the rails? I need to figure that out.

A party erupted at our house Saturday night. I invited a few people from the neighborhood over, and they showed up as did others, one of whom I only sort of know, another of whom I didn’t know at all.

Shots were downed and schemes were hatched and beer bottles were broken and baskets were shot on Eli’s new hoop. I had an especially fine time.

Then Phil backed his truck into a steep ditch. Why Phil, who lives a maybe two-minute walk away, had driven to our house in the first place is a head scratcher. Why he’d decided to cruise home with a belly full of booze is another.

A tree prevented his truck from flipping over, and the front half of his truck, including a wheel that was off the ground, poked out into the road. We tried to push his truck and then tried to tow it, but we couldn’t budge the heavy machine.

It’s been a brutal year for Phil. His wife cheated on him and left him. He’s working several jobs, but money is always tight. He gets to see his son very little.

You’d think that a truck in the ditch would be enough to break him. But Phil remained upbeat and relaxed as we failed to get his truck unstuck and called wrecker services and hoped that a sheriff wouldn’t roll down the street.

I told Phil that if it we were me, I’d be angry and freaked out. I told him I might just put my head through a window.

He smiled at me. “What are they going to do to me? I mean, really. I’m already broken. They can’t hurt you when you don’t care any more.”

He patted me on the shoulder.

“Come on, bro,” he said. “Let’s get some cold beers and enjoy the circus.”

He yanked two Lone Stars from the garage fridge, and we walked up the driveway to the road to await the tow truck, and I drank deeply from the bottle, and I have to admit that I felt calm and pretty good.


I’m sure I’m over my 20-minute limit. I didn’t intend to tell this story, but then I started typing, and I didn’t want to stop. So I didn’t.


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