Monday, August 25, 2008

...Up in Here, Up in Here!

Last week I damn near lost my mind. The week after a vacation is always bad, but last week seemed particularly bad, even for the usual week-after-vacation blues. I came back to a gazillion unread e-mails, a tedious project that’s a month behind schedule, if not more, and additional work I didn’t know I needed to do because a coworker resigned. And that’s just my day job. On the derby side, I’m behind in getting some sponsorship structural pieces to some people, I’m up against a million deadlines for the WFTDA tournaments, I still need to do my sponsor recap for RollerCon, and I found out that I lost a huge sponsorship deal for my league because a regional office was abruptly closed for an indefinite period of time. Oh, and did I mention I’m out for the rest of the season? Yeah.

Each night I came home from work, paralyzed by the thought of the sheer amount of what I still had to do. No matter what I worked on, it seemed that I was neglecting something else, and of course it was all due yesterday. And even though yesterday I was stressed out, today just kept getting worse, each day up until Friday.

I had one mission for Friday as soon as I walked in the door of my house – get fucked up. The dog, however, had something else on his mind. He wanted to go to the Lake, so in the midst of an enhanced cleaning frenzy (it makes me feel better to see results somewhere), I dropped everything and took Calvin for a walk.

Since it was Friday, the Lake was kind of dead – not many people were there, which was fine by me. I just wanted to do one lap and then get back to scrubbing the kitchen. I usually bring my purse to the Lake and then stash it in the car, putting my car key in my sports bra, but for some reason I only brought my ID and $10, which was already in my pocket. As I left I remember thinking, “Why am I bringing money?” but I brought it anyway.

I’m pleased that I finally got one of those nifty dog-shit bag holders that attaches to your leash, so I don’t have grocery bags stuffed down my pants. I take the dog for a crap off in the grass before we start our walk, and the bags work perfectly. I’m concurrently psyching myself up to have a good time at the Lake, because if I really had my way I’d retreat into my bed for the next week and half with a bottle of Valium and a How Do I Look? marathon. And so we start our 1.3 mile walk.

We only get maybe 50 yards when I see a kid sitting on the side selling water. This is a common thing during summer in Baltimore – someone will get several cases of water, ice them in a cooler, and sell them to passing motorists at intersections around Baltimore for a buck. This kid was doing it at the Lake. I thought “who brings money to the Lake,” but then I remembered that I did and figured I’d get a bottled water, even though I already had one in the car.

“You selling water?” I ask.

“Yeah, a dollar,” the kid replied.

“Okay, I’ll take one,” I said as I handed him my ten. “Have you ever sold water here before,” I ask.

“I’m here every day,” he said.

Knowing he’s full of shit, I say, “Really? Because I usually skate here at least several times a week and I’ve never seen you here before. You should come on Tuesdays and Thursdays, because they’re way more packed than a Friday afternoon – you’d make more money on those days.”

It pisses me off when people think you’re creepy for trying to help them out, and the kid kind of gave me that impression, but whatever.

He hands me my water.

“Okay, well thanks,” I say and start to walk away. “Oh, wait, did I get my change?”

“No,” he chuckled, as if to tell me he knew full well why I had forgotten to get it.

He took this wad of cash from his pocket that made me wonder if selling water on the side of the road in the summertime was really a front for something else. There’s no way some kid has a grand in his pocket from selling water. I take my money and my water, and I thank him.

As I walked around the Lake sipping my water, all the stresses from the week just seemed to float away. As hard as I had tried to force myself to calm down and relax on all the weeknights before, the results didn’t compare to that walk around the Lake. Not only that, but I had several amazing brainstorms as we were walking, and I was actually excited to get home and write them down. I don’t know if it was the clean air or being surrounded by nature or maybe just the act of walking, but by the time I made it back to my car I was invigorated.

I pulled out the water bottle I originally brought for Calvin, and I tossed the bottle I had emptied on my way around the Lake on to the floor of my car. I noticed that the water-selling kid was gone, and I wondered how he got all his stuff packed up so quickly, two coolers, a table, and a beach chair – it was as if he was never there at all.

Maybe he wasn’t.

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