Battling the Wizard – Part VIII
The following catalogs the turmoil that led
to my sudden move to Nederland at the end of January.
It’s extremely long, though each part is reasonable article length.
It was on the drive to the hospital that the reality of the situation really began to hit me. the Birthday Girl’s birthday was in three days. Our trip to Steamboat coincided. Up until that moment, I hadn’t really connected the Birthday Girl’s collarbone to the shape my life would take in the next week. I had been stressing figuring out if I could afford to cover gas and lodging; I knew I could do one but likely not the other, but it was her birthday and she had been having such a rough time I felt it would do her good even if it were difficult for me financially. After all, it was only money.
I drove slowly and carefully, annoyed at the unnecessary radar detector beeping away, carefully making sure not to adjust the seat despite the 6 inches in height difference between the Wizard and me. I drove more deliberately than I felt I had ever driven before, scared for the car, scared for myself, scared for the Wizard, and, most of all, scared for the Birthday Girl.
I tried my best to put on a kind smile as I walked in and collected my friend. She seemed more upset that they had sliced and diced her favorite pair of jeans than that she had possibly fucked up her life beyond repair. I smiled softly through it, fighting back anger and fear, rage and tears, my mind flush with a swirling plethora of emotion, indelicately topped with shame and guilt.
We loaded the Birthday Girl into the car, stopped briefly to pick up her spare key since her backpack, wallet and keys were missing, and headed to her temporary home in a friend’s basement. I led her down the stairs, collecting a glass of water, and watched her lie down in agony before tucking her in. I left and rushed home, arriving with 10 minutes before my ride to work would arrive. I locked the car, carefully leaving the key in plain sight in the kitchen and dressed rapidly in my uniform for work.
I was about to grab my things and wander out the door when the Wizard appeared in my doorway.
“Don’t say anything,” he instructed, rage on his face. “There is no excuse for this behavior. It is completely unacceptable. Do you think I wanted to be woken up at 5:30 in the morning!? Do you think it’s ok to ask to borrow MY car!? Do you think I want someone banging on my door at that hour of the morning when I’m trying to sleep!? You’ve completely ruined my day! I couldn’t go back to sleep! And the only reason you could possibly think this is ok is because you’re a terrible human being completely lacking in compassion! You know I hate loaning out my car! It’s a huge financial liability for me! People could sue ME if you got into an accident! God forbid it’s your fault! And to top it off, now my day is ruined and I won’t be able to get anything done! You are simply inconsiderate! Just think on that!”
He spun on his heels and marched upstairs.
“Thank you again,” I called gently after him, trying my hardest not to let all the anger and rage he had just instilled in me out.
As I grabbed my bag, I held my tongue. I clicked the door shut behind me and joined my carpool, apologizing that my normal payment of breakfast couldn’t be delivered, not offering any other explanation.
“You’re quiet this morning,” my ride said.
“I’ve got a lot on my mind,” I replied, trying not to turn the car ride into an inescapable bitch fest.
I texted him from Nederland, forty minutes into my commute. “Thank you again for letting me borrow your car. When I get home tonight, we can talk. I hope that will give you better context.”
The reply came quickly: “I don’t want fucking context. The only reason for you to wake me up and do something like that is that you are inconsiderate and terrible human being.”
I was shocked. The Wizard had every right to be angry. I woke him up. I made someone else’s problem our problem. I asked to borrow his car. I had ruined his day. I respected that.
But his reaction in the morning was unacceptable. I was willing to forgive it, hoping that the importance of the situation in my mind would be enough to bridge the gap. But this, this continual berating, this constant blame, this overreaction is simply unacceptable.
He had chosen to remain angry when things went awry. He had chosen to corner me on my way out and try to make me feel the same anger. He had chosen to shirk my olive branches, and return with slander and name-calling.
“Just to let you know,” one of the parents told me, “she’s a bit grumpy today. I told her that if she didn’t behave, you would put her in the time out zone and she wouldn’t get to ski.”
“That’s ok,” I said, looking the 10 year-old girl whose life was in my hands in the eye. “I’ve had a rough morning too. I’m a bit grumpy myself.”
I smiled through the rage and the anger. I laughed despite the guilt and the shame. I pretended I couldn’t feel the fearful pain, the empathy for my good friend and her plight, and the terrible hole my roommate had wrenched in my soul.
I skied erratically. I barely held the class together. The kids seemed to respond in kind, spreading beyond my grasp, running away from the group, and leaving me even more fearful. Each day, the kids I teach are turned over to my care. My decisions on where to take them could result in an injury, emotional or physical. Their lives are entrusted to me, and I work hard to not only return them safely, but stronger and more able. And here, my personal problems were threatening to bubble over and wrest weeks of hard work, of building trust, of leading a pack of wild children across a dangerous barren waste of snow and trees from my control.
I seethed on every lift ride, silently wondering if I had any recourse, if I could forgive the Wizard. I took every opportunity to ride the lift alone or with strangers to whom I had no desire to talk.
The two arguments played out side by side:
Think about the friendship I might lose if I stayed and attacked this head on, I told myself. Think about all the years of camaraderie. Think about how, when his back went out, you helped him up and fretted the night away as he tried to deal with it. Think about the times you played frisbee golf, the Tichu games, the evenings spent discussing philosophy and history. Think about everything this could cost you. To save the friendship, the only option is to leave.
Think about the burden you’ve become. Think about how often he reminds you that you’ve ruined his day, his week, his life. Think about the arguments, the way he clearly doesn’t want you there. Think about the pain and suffering his in, and how he makes it clear that it’s you who caused it. To save his mental health, the only option is to leave.
It was midway up the lift, shortly after lunch, that I resolved to start packing as soon as I got home.
Battling the Wizard – Part IX