We don’t have girls, so we don’t have much “drama”. Until there’s an injury, and then Lawton can make you believe the sky is falling, the seas are rising and he’s seen a vision of bad Santa. (For those that know Lawton, remember the “swallowing issue”.) Our first week here, Lawton sustained one of those epic injuries. Dumb Daddy cut his thumb nail too short. Trace amounts of blood were taken, a Band-Aid was administered, and Lawton’s hand became immobilized for 36 hours. Bum thumb = no use of left arm. Not even on the iPad. We tried to talk about it casually, but repeatedly got the injured hand in our face. And so we let it go – to “heal” in it’s own sweet time.
As I watched Lawton deal with his phantom injury, it made me wonder if maybe I was doing some of that too. Everyone knows that moving is one of life’s biggest stresses – even more so when that move is to a foreign country. I’ve given myself a long rope of grace with this move, but wondered if I too was nursing some of my own unjustified anxieties. It’s natural to be anxious about new things, but anxieties can render you paralyzed the more you talk about it and the longer you wait on it.
My bum thumb for the first week(s) here was driving. I was a wreck. I’m not even a good driver in the US. But in the US, there are wide roads, few one-way streets, and signs I can read. Here, there are at least two dozen signs at every intersection. Every potential point of interest is accounted for. Each lane has it’s own signs. Regular lanes turn into bus lanes that then turn into bike lanes that then turn into you’re-screwed-lanes. Traffic lights are not ubiquitously overhead. Parallel parking is the ONLY parking. Luxembourg City is perched high on cliffs that drop into narrow river valleys – and there are only two (hidden) ways down. Traffic yields to the right – even when you are barreling down a street at lots of km/h. (I still haven’t worked out the math in my head.) But when there’s a yield sign with a X in it – it means that priority is no longer on the right – so do what finally feels natural.
There was a lot to be anxious about, but I was anxious as a passenger. Every time Brett drove, I tried to imagine me navigating the same roads. I would ask clarifying questions about directions and was always off by 90-180 degrees. Brett drove with confidence (as all men do), and then accidentally find himself in the bus lane. And Dumb Daddy thought I could do this!
Finally on our ninth day here, I ripped the band-aid off. I got behind the wheel the morning of New Year’s Day. While people were home nursing hang overs, I took to the empty streets. With “Betty” (our GPS system) as my companion, I found my way to the kid’s school. Ahh. I was a mother that could get my children to school. I made it home and parallel parked in front of my building. Happy with my inaugural effort, Betty coaxed me into doing more. So we headed for the empty mall and I visualized parking in a sea of cars with pedestrian walkways and way too many no entry signs. I did it. There were no accidental detours onto bus lanes or motorways, and my yielding to imaginary cars was par excellent. It really wasn’t near as hard as I thought (and you all knew) it would be. But often, we just need to take the first step to get over our proverbial bump in the road. And I had done it on New Year’s Day.
I have been mostly over the driving angst since then – I even pass trucks on the motorway going 140 k/ph! – and I love me some roundabouts. I still wait a few seconds too long on the yields and hold my breath on the parking garages, but basically I’m finding my way around. But, I was almost undone again when I got an email from my landlord two days ago.
It turns out, there ARE cameras in the parking garage. He asked me if I was parking in space #16 because that is not our space (I knew that) and could I please park in space #32 (our assigned space, which I also knew.) That would be possible if not for the permanent car in space #31 and the pole on the other side of space #32. And I reasoned, I have never seen a car in space #16, or #15, or #14, or #13 – basically the whole other freakin side of the garage. Instead, we are all bunched together around this very dangerous pole. I emailed him back to a) confess, b) say sorry, and c) ask for another parking space. He didn’t respond right away, so I did the next best thing. I got in my car, took a deep breath, and attempted to back into space #32. (It should be noted that though Betty is excellent in many ways, she does not have a rear view camera.) Putting aside my past encounters with poles, parked cars, and medians – I decided that if I could back into this space, I would easily be able to get out this space. Slowly, carefully in reverse I went. Yes! I landed in the lines and without side swiping the car-that-does-not-move or the pole. And then I did it again – faster (but not too fast.) And then I emailed my landlord back and told him that space #32 was just fine.
Lawton’s hand is fully functional again now too. Although, we had a bit of a setback yesterday with some frost nip accompanied by visions of Frosty chasing him down a fiery pit. It took only about twenty minutes this time to thaw his hands (and stop the drama) – at which time I noticed that his nails were crazy long. But then I thought mischievously, Dumb Daddy is home tomorrow. I’ll tell him I’ll park the car while he takes over grooming duties.