You Never Know What You Have Until You Lose It
Accidents, I’ve had more than I care to admit. Some of them my fault, others, believe it or not, not my fault at all, just the product of bad luck, or karma – one of the two. For better or for worse, when the Texas Department of Public Safety and I entered into our marriage of wits it was until death do us part, at least for me, or until I moved out of state. A few times we’ve been at the brink of despair, heading for “Splits-Ville,” especially at the inception of our story together, but we’ve always managed to pull through. No laughing matter, simply all I can do to hold back from crying.
The worst involved a maroon colored La Baronne convertible property of one of my sisters, a freeway, lots of fire and an explosion. I’d borrowed her car to make it on time to the job where I spent eight hours a day making payment arrangements for people unable or unwilling to pay their phone bills. Cruising along, top down, music pumping, cigarette lit, all of a sudden precisely before my exit a dark cloud of black smoke unleashed itself upon me. From every direction, every single vent, the smog was darkening every crevice of the La Baronne’s front window. Paranoid as they had us about being late, all I could stupidly think was to get off and walk fast before quarter to three turned into three o’clock. At the light, a coworker offered a ride and we made it on time. That’s when the worrying and reality actually set in.
Wow, did you all see that car that was on fire on the side of the freeway, were the next words I heard. My heart sank. What would I say? How would I explain to my sister her car had burned up. The older boss lady at my job found my predicament quite amusing: Well what are you going to do now? It’s not like you can do anything if the firefighters are already out there? Nevertheless she obliged and allowed me to walk the several blocks back to the car. Traffic tickets were expensive I knew that. Let alone tickets for burning up an entire patch of state grass on the side of the freeway, and what about having all those firefighters out there, and holding up traffic, definitely had to cost a pretty penny. So my game plan was eyeing activity from the Target parking lot just across the way. From there I’d fabricate my story and save face.
Only at the sight of that car, all the blackened grass, and the frenzy of people moving back and forth, I knew I had to be honest. I called my sister and broke the news.
Surprisingly and thankfully she did not yell at me, well not for long anyway. Instead she wondered if I was okay and told me not to worry. I didn’t receive any tickets, but they weren’t necessary. I’d seen how hard she worked to pay for that car and I was the one that now had to live with that guilt.
I wish I could say my track record has improved since then, but quite the opposite is true unfortunately. Literally stacks of pink and white colored papers are archived in my name somewhere in the state of Texas with violations ranging from expired stickers to speeding, even a few for failing to yield. I’ve totaled at least three cars over the past 10 years, and have been threatened with losing my license on more than one occasion. Not that I’m proud of these achievements – actually written out here like this now they are quite shameful. Instead they’ve taught me a thing or two about owning up to the things we do.
As in an actual marriage between two people, or any relationship for that matter, it is impossible to overcome a dilemma if we are unwilling to be honest and take ownership of our mistakes and flaws. I know, I’ve tried to play stupid and it only gets you so far. Because at the end of the day we are the ones that have to deal with the consequences of our own actions, not the other person or people who can choose to leave at any moment – in the same way we can as well. And many times once that something is lost there are very little probabilities of getting it back. Our marriage is still on rocky ground, but the state of Texas and I have come to a new level of understanding I feel.
You never know what you have until you lose it.