Being creative typically feels like a curse. I process life differently than most. Feeling misunderstood is the norm for me. I see things that others don’t, or refuse to, see. My sensitivity level is considerably higher than most people’s, and I absorb everything that is going on around me like a helpless sponge. I spend most of my days alone, at my computer in my home office while working on writing a novel. I’ve been working on it for three years. A lot of people die in my novel, and I currently prefer to spend my time in the sad, fictional world I created instead of in what America has become.
Yesterday I had to step away from my imaginary world to deliver sympathy cards and get car tabs at the DMV. When I arrived at the DMV lobby it was packed with people—real people, which I’m not accustomed to dealing with, lately. I had to weave my way through them to grab my number: 65. The DMV employees were on number 52, so only 12 more people to go before it was my turn. While reading the free local newspaper in the lobby and thinking about whether or not I wanted to join the local chapter of Better Angels, I heard a woman sigh heavily and say that they’ve been on number 52 for 25 minutes. I looked around and saw a dozen angry faces. I quickly did the math: 25+ minutes times 12 people meant it might not be my turn until … tomorrow.
The sun was shining outside the DMV window. I heard my vitamin D depleted body scream, “Let me out!” Luckily I had an extra layer of clothing and my winter boots on because we had just received a 7” inch April snow shower a couple days earlier and storms like that make me feel like I should be prepared for anything. I took my number 65 with me and trudged a half mile through snow-covered sidewalks to the nearest grocery store. Considering the pace at the DMV, I estimated that I could easily pick up food for supper, drop my groceries off at my car, finish writing my novel, and be back in the DMV lobby before my number was called.
On my walk to Cub Foods, I thought a lot about the two people I knew of that recently committed suicide—because thinking about the suffering of others is what creative people sometimes do in their spare time. I wondered if creativity factored into their desire to not be in this world. I wondered if they were sponges that were saturated with everything going on around them. As I enjoyed soaking up the soothing sunshine, I wished those two people could be enjoying it too.
I got my groceries at a leisurely pace. I went through self-checkout so I wouldn’t have to risk absorbing a cashier’s unhappy existence. When I walked out of Cub, the sunshine was even more radiant. A little poem for the two people I had been thinking about on my walk to the store suddenly popped into my head. I recited my poem for the deceased over and over on my walk back to the DMV parking lot so I wouldn’t forget it.
I stopped and took a photo of inverted footprints on a sidewalk that were made of snow and seemed to be going both directions at the same time. Creative people are required to capture moments like that to use later. I looked in the distance to see what kind of creature leaves inside-out forward-backward footprints, but didn’t notice anything so I decided it was probably an anti-person and continued toward the DMV. I put my groceries in my car and headed to the lobby with number 65 in hand.
When I walked into the DMV they were on number 72. I sighed and shoved number 65 into my purse. I made plans to return the next day when they might finally call my new number: 80. I stood outside the lobby and pulled out my grocery list. I wrote my little poem on the back of it, and when I looked up the DMV staff was already on number 76. After waiting only five minutes, number 80 was called. I presented my registration renewal form with my check and the DMV lady grunted at me. I thought about grunting back at her, but instead I stood there awkwardly, feeling that I had done something wrong because she was so unhappy. I thought about what might make her so unhappy and while I was waiting for her to hand me my tabs, I came up with a story about how she had been a successful lounge singer in beautiful Venezuela where she met Eric Johnson from Minnesota who was there for a 3M convention. After having a very l-o-o-o-ng long distance online relationship because she typed so slow, he convinced her to move to Minnesota because he was tired of waiting for her to slowly type her responses to his online professions of love. She moved to Minnesota, but Eric had failed to inform her in advance that there is snow in Minnesota—lots of it—and all she had for footwear was a pair of beautifully handcrafted Venezuelan sandals made of sea shells. I finished coming up with her entire history and the DMV lady was still slowly hunting and pecking her way through the keyboard to process my payment. So I used the time to pray that the notoriously glitchy DMV computer network wouldn’t crash before I could escape with my tabs. Finally, fifteen minutes before closing time, I had my 2019 tabs in hand. But before I could leave, staying true to the stereotype of the DMV employee, she attempted to deliver “nice” parting words because recent training—and complaints by passive aggressive Minnesotans—required her to, but it made me feel like I should apologize for being alive. But I didn’t apologize because it was a good day to be alive and out in the world: I was able to successfully get my tabs in just one afternoon, I survived interacting with a real human being at the DMV, I knew what I was making for supper, the sun was shining, the snow was melting, I had photo evidence of an anti-person, inspiration landed on me from out of nowhere, and I had a new poem to think about. Yesterday, it was a gift to be creative.
ON YOUR YESTERDAY
I wish I could turn
on your yesterday
and change your mind
about going away…
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© 2018 by Julie Ryan. All rights reserved
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