So there I sat, crying into my hands in a parked rental car on the side of some random street in Brooklyn next to a scrap metal warehouse. I felt paralyzed because I felt trapped. And you were there. And you held me. And you pushed me out the cage in my head and into the big, loud, messy, beautiful world.
“I hate driving in New York,” I kept telling you as we drove away from JFK and then the next day as we drove into the city. “It’s like driving in a hell tunnel only to be shot out into a maze commissioned by Satan,” I complained. You laughed.
We rolled down the Brooklyn streets and my gnawing anxiety let up for a moment. I felt we were almost free. Then, we ran into a literal roadblock. A big bike race had stopped up traffic, impeded the path forward, and sent me spiraling.
I heard car horns, peoples’ voices, trucks exhaling. I saw garbage piled up on the sides of the streets and factories, mills, warehouses surrounding us on all sides. I eyed our gas gauge nervously.
The GPS time-to-arrival never went down. It spun out impossible directions. My brain became overwhelmed by my mind’s chaotic swirl of loud and ominous proclamations.
I could not see a way forward. All I could see was traffic, busyness, noise, cacophony of cruel, cold, unblinking metal monsters. I could not see any light in the graying mid-May afternoon.
You suggested we take a pause and regroup. Your calming voice struck against the thick castle walls I had drawn up around my frail and stormy mind like doves perched along the embrasures. A signal to the archers as they gripped their bows tightly that the only thing approaching the walls was the weather.
At first, I reacted to your simple suggestions poorly. The tempest in my head raged on. I could not hear your words clearly as I busied myself with reinforcing the entrances and exits into my head. During my resistance, I felt anger and fear all around me. I still could not see any light in this simple dilemma. I felt high drama and chaos engulfing our little red car.
You looked elegant, cool, and composed as your eyes scanned the road for a place to park. I felt like a fraying cable holding up the world, bound to cause the end of all things. Panic tasted like hot, sour metal in the back of my mouth.
Somehow, you convinced me to pull off the main road away from the uniformed officers, the flashing lights, the lines of traffic.
We came to a stop. I turned off the car. The world continued to hum and buzz. Rain fell lightly.
You kept talking to me. Words like footfalls in the snow. Light, impressing, soothing. The battle in my head was reaching a fever pitch. My body was frozen.
You made out a simple, happy plan with simple, joyful words. You suggested steps to take and reasons why to take them.
My head was thickening metal. And I was ready to scrap it. I was warring with myself. Taking every cheap shot I could see. And you sat there and looked at me with warm, comforting eyes.
And just as I was about to deliver the final blow to myself, you spoke these words:
“Come back to me.”
Four words. Little flowers. Sweet manna falling gently. The battle did not just cease, but started to fade out of existence. Slowly, I saw where I was. I heard you and felt you.
I leaned into you and let a few tears fall into your lap.
The volume gets too loud sometimes and the world gets too much and I forget the goodness of you and this place. I forget the light.
I forget the goodness of you and this place. And I forget the light.
I forget the goodness of you and this place.
I forget the light.
But you make me remember.