Friday was a terrible day but also, in a strange way, a sweet day. I didn’t have work because another one of my clients laid me off. More and more of my clients are cutting their budgets. I was even taking a pay cut because I loved working in his office, but now that has dried up too. I miss going to work every day. I’ve been sad about it.
It was good that I didn’t have to work, though, because Bug needed a new copy of her birth certificate and social security card, which meant I needed to drive around to get these various documents. Toby lost her originals. He says I lost them, I say he lost them. You know how it goes with divided parenting… Maybe Bug has them in her room? Who knows. But we had to get new ones because she’s starting her first real job next week. I’m so proud and excited for her!
Driving in downtown Santa Ana and dealing with parking and waiting rooms is NOT my favorite way to pass a day. I was dreading it. Surprisingly the courthouses are new and shiny. Much to my delight, the new buildings were huge and well organized. We walked in and were breezily registered. I filled out an online questionnaire and was sent to a desk where a woman printed two copies of Bug’s birth certificate for a fee. It was so simple! It was awesome. I had whined and complained about how much of a pain in the neck the process would be on the drive there, and then it was nothing.
But of course, we still had to go to the Social Security Office. Social Security offices are known for being horrible. They even have large signs on the wall forbidding handguns because everyone wants to shoot each other when you are there. It’s a brutal look into the down-and-out and frustrated populace of America. Bug and I texted comments to each other as we listened to tall tales from the desperate people pleading for this and that from their assigned government workers. It was sad.
Finally, our number was called, and we were led to a back room full of empty cubicles. A woman looked at our documents and approved for Bug to get a new social security card. It was a simple task, not counting the hour-and-a-half wait in the third ring of Dante’s inferno waiting room. Phones and TikTok make this waiting infinitely more bearable than I remember it being years ago when I had to change my name after I got married.
It was long past lunchtime by the time we wrapped things up, so Bug and I decided to reward ourselves with a lunch out in the artsy side of Santa Ana. The artsy side of Santa Ana is trying so hard to be artsy, but it’s not entirely pulling it off. You can tell things are happening during the monthly art walk, but the afternoon on a Thursday was pretty grim. Nobody was out, and everything was closed. We found a place, though, and had a nice lunch at The Den, formerly known as The Gypsy Den.
Before lunch, a parking citation officer had been looking at the parking meter next to my car. I had paid with my debit card, so I knew I wasn’t getting a ticket. I asked him if I was okay, and he dismissed me with a wave. I should have known something was up because a ticket was on my windshield when we returned to the car. Right when I went to retrieve it from the window, I simultaneously stepped in some hot gooey chewing gum. There I was with long strands of gum stuck to my shoe and trailing behind me as I looked at the ticket and saw how much I would have to pay for not having a front license plate.
Yep, I got a ticket for not having a front license plate. I have not had a front license plate since Toby took it off in 2006, claiming it was for aesthetic reasons. I never questioned it. I should have put it back on when he gave the plate to me many years later, but I never got around to it. I figured I’d gone years without it; it wasn’t a big deal. Apparently, it is a big deal when you park in downtown Santa Ana where government operates.
I couldn’t believe my bad karma. Bug and I laughed at how ridiculous the whole day had been. I haven’t even told you about all the times I took the wrong exit off the freeway or how many times Bug got mad at me for not listening to her when she talked. It’s like my brain was on another planet yesterday.
I’ve been so stressed about work and not working that I haven’t been operating on all cylinders. Half of my brain is too busy worrying at all times. I’m up at night worrying, I’m worrying all day. I’m not on my game. I’m just a worry monster.
The good part of yesterday was Bug. She was so patient with me. She’s seen me go through many ups and downs. I try not to share how much I’m worrying because she has enough to worry about on her own, and I don’t want her to have to parent her parent, but sometimes the stress seeps out of me no matter how hard I try to cover it up. It seeps out when I’m not paying attention 100%. It seeps out when I get frustrated easily for missing an exit on the freeway. It seeps out when I mention things repeatedly without remembering that I already told her. Bug is not stupid. She knows.
So when our car cd player rotated to the Bob Marley album and “Everything’s Gonna Be Alright” started playing out of the speakers, she turned it up and sang a little for me. There is nothing like having a moment with your near-adult teenager. I just looked at her knowing smile in the afternoon sun. She knows me, I thought. She knows me better than anyone. Soon enough, she’ll be grown, and on her own, so I cherish these moments. Yesterday might have been my worst day in a long time, but it was with Bug, and I knew someday it would make a good story.