I’ve been needing new shoes for months, ever since we realized that my new boots were the root (hah!) of my leg pain and I went back to my old shoes (complete with cracks across the bottoms) in the interim. Nothing says ‘put shoe shopping off, hell put everything off another day’ like intense sciatica flare-up. Still, I made a token effort before yesterday by visiting closer stores that sold shoes, in hopes to get some. Because of various needs (gout; unsteady ankles that prefer wide-bottomed shoes; spending all day on my feet; gout) despite the fact that I don’t like the sneaker look, I need to wear sneakers. For some ungodly reason this year they’re all brightly colored. Nary a nice, subtle, soft brown to be found. There’s one particular brand I stick with because they are historically safe bets with good wear and little break-in time. Yesterday, in my flurry of Getting Shit Done (because my errand day, today, has been usurped by GemFaire and Beth and I are re-upping Fiberwytch’s stash) I decided, hell, I’m doing everything else, why not go and get this taken care of? So,off I went to the actual big box shoe store.
This store is on one corner of a busy intersection. Two four lane roads, and I was there the beginning of rush hour. Now, to be fair, the road I was crossing was the least busy of the two, and where the bus dropped me off, it was just as easy to walk to a crosswalk that spanned the one street as it was to go and cross at the intersection. I figured, further from the four way crossing would be better, and the crosswalk was a big one. No light, but huge signs and a median and big stripe-y crosswalk. When I reached I looked both ways, because I’m a conscientious pedestrian, because cars are big and fast and heavy and I’m soft and squishy, and because I’m injured. I have a sprained knee and the quirky sciatica, and I’d rather wait to cross than rush across. So I looked. The three cars that I saw — and I had a clear view down to the lights — stopped for me. One in the lane right by me, and two coming from the other side around the bend, all breaking because hey look at me. I was already through the first lane when I heard squealing tires like mad, and focused on the opposite side of the road, because two seconds ago, when I started crossing, the only car on *my* side of the road was the one I was crossing in front of.
And then there’s this pick up, accelerating right before the tires start making that weaving sound they make when you’re trying to avoid hitting something but can’t veer too far from your lane, and I look up in time to see them barreling down on me. Crazy close. Like, oh, let me just suck in my gut and feel the caress of your side view as you rush past me, you asshole. Close enough that the option was to step back, because if I had tried to dive for the median they would have clipped me.
I’ve had more close calls in this city with cars than I have *anywhere else* and I’ve been a pedestrian in places like New York, and Philly, and Boston. Masshole drives, you guys, but it’s these drivers out here that don’t pay attention and are conditioned to having big open spaces, that are the scariest I’ve ever had to deal with. EVERYONE around you is stopped. Maybe, I dunno. Pay attention to flow of traffic? Maybe?
I had that lovely split second to decide, “jump forward or backward?” and then, “Shit, Beth is gonna be mad.” and then, “Aw, my brother,” and then they were passed me. I could barely stand I was shaking so hard, and then? My immediate reaction, and this is why I’m sharing it here, was anger and blame directed at Poseidon.
Poseidon encourages me from time to time to push beyond points of social overstimulation. Not always. But yesterday I was up early to go grocery shopping, and generally grocery shopping is my one task for the day I do it on because it takes so much out of me. It was worse because I had to go earlier than I normally do, on a different day, and so I had to deal with crowds. Coming home the bus was crowded, and I take my cart because, hey, sciatica, and when I can’t tuck into a bay on the new buses with my cart, I stand in the wheelchair bays because sitting with the cart in painful for me right now. So I tucked myself into the bay, and then this guy got on, pointed out that the seat near me was empty and that I could sit down. I insisted I was fine, and he said it two more times. So I was annoyed already that some random dude on the bus wanted to tell me how I should be on bus. (Chivalry isn’t, by the way, when you try to force the woman to sit when she doesn’t want to sit. don’t get your fee-fees hurt, just accept her first thank you, I’m good here, and let it go. But I digress.) Normally I would come home and just stay home, but He was all, “hey you need those shoes, you’re not going to have time before next weekend to go, I’m really kinda tired of you not getting new shoes to see how much wearing year old shoes with falling about bottoms is making your leg keep hurting so much, why don’t we just go get shoes?” He’s smart, because sometimes if I have “must do these things” hanging over my head (new shoes. Taxes. mow the lawn if it ever stops raining and my back says I can/hire someone to mow the lawn) they begin to get too heavy and overwhelming in their own way. So, mental health and physical health, He’s helpful that way. And I went.
And then I almost died.
And I thought, “I’m so fucking I went shopping for shoes. Great idea, don’t You feel like an asshole now, way to set me up.” Which, is knee-jerk reaction, and panic, and fear, and blinding relief, and did I mention panic. (Yes, I basically called Poseidon an asshole. Not the first time. Do I recommend doing so? Not really. Can He take it? Yeah, you know, my experience tells me Their pretty good about sussing out motivations for things like this. Sophisticated beings, these Powers). After I staggered to the sidewalk and sat for a while (where’d the knees go?) I realized where my thoughts had been, and realized, I didn’t need to have noticed the truck. They’d only started applying the breaks less than three car-lengths from where I was, when I looked their way they were closer still. It was less squealing and more tires-on-pavement-swerving that I heard. My brain could have frozen rather than jumping into the quick calculations of which way to move (I love my brain. I LOVE my brain. I do not freeze up in these situations, I love my brain). I could have been roadkill, splat.
“Er, I suppose what I meant by asshole was thank You.” I managed to amend.
Because sometimes, jumping into the blame is knee-jerk. Sometimes it’s borne out of immediacy and instinct and fear. Cultivating gratitude is just that — cultivation. I don’t think it’s something most of us are born with, and fear of our mortality is powerful.
I did not almost die yesterday because my gods are neglectful. I survived yesterday because my gods have my back.