Health and Wellness, Parenting

Thief of Joy

I can feel sweat sliding down my neck and slipping between my breasts underneath my shirt. Its continual dribble is saturating my bra with the scent of salt crystals. My nostrils flair because I’m worried that if I can smell it, someone else probably can too. I am convinced that my brain is swelling and smooshing against the confines of my skull. It must be that way because my mood has soured and I’m feeling forgetful, mouthy, and blatantly rude.

The day began with such promise but turned rotten when amid running errands during a Georgia heat wave, the air conditioning went out on my SUV. Even with all four windows tucked away and the breeze attempting to cool things down, I can feel my skin cooking like a rotisserie chicken set aside at Walmart. I don’t do golden brown though, I only do red. The flecks on my shoulders become more prominent but the rest of me looks like the underside of a baboon.

My husband kept talking. I would ask a question and he would snap at me while my son would repeat himself… and repeat… and repeat. My mind wandered and drifted off to laying on my bed at home in my underwear like a starfish. Air conditioning on blast, an iced tea in my free hand… or maybe it was an ice cream. My mouth watered at the thought of anything cold being pressed against my lips and lingering on my tongue. I would love for the water from a frozen swimming pool to graze across my skin right about now.  

“Maybe it’s a problem with the compressor… are you even listening to me?” He interrogated.

I wasn’t. The blowers were turned on but the only thing coming out of them were flames that were aimed directly into my face. He kept them turned all the way up because he had spent hours sitting in the Auto Zone parking lot messing around with parts underneath the hood. He wanted to see if he had fixed it yet, he hadn’t. He was doing it for me, but I just wanted it to be over. The vents stayed on blast while I was in the fast lane of being driven to insanity.

I wanted to feel ashamed for not considering the homeless people who have tents tucked underneath bridges in Atlanta. Yet I was selfishly focused on my heat intolerant body and my ability to avoid passing out so I could make it home… so I could identify as a pink naked starfish. The trip to the laundromat proved to be equally fruitless. I tucked my computer underneath my arm hoping to connect to the Wi-Fi, download some movies, write, and perhaps cool off a little. The problem was that their air conditioning had gone out too.

They used an extension cord to provide power to a massive fan as a way of circulating air flow and making things more comfortable. Unfortunately, a woman who didn’t have enough quarters for a dryer had emptied her wet belongings into the bottom of a cart while hanging her fitted bedding from the corners of the rack on top. The speed of the fan turned her bedding into a parachute that blocked the cool wind tunnel from caressing anyone or anything other than the clothes she wanted dried.

Normally I pay close attention to my body language but since I had lost my ability to sympathize, my foul mood and disgust was written clearly across my face. I should have considered that perhaps the woman was a truck driver, or someone who (in this current economy) was forced to live out of her car. It’s also possible that like me, she felt so delusional from the grotesque Georgia heat that she had forgotten all about the fact that they would dry rather quickly if she had only chosen to hang them up outside. I however didn’t think about any of those things before tossing dirty looks in her direction. She was the thief of my joy after all.

She tucked her yellow locks behind her ear, and I thought that it looked a lot like crunchy instant ramen noodles, so I made another face. I didn’t feel particularly proud of myself for thinking that way, but I was angry. Nor did I feel good about judging her life choices, yet I wouldn’t dare choose to wear white spandex in public on a day like this. As I sat there making mental notes, I assumed that perhaps this heat had her looking at me in the same light… or not. I didn’t care.

The woman stammered an apology. She tucked her sunny blue shirt into her leggings and fiddled with her hands as she tripped over excuses for stealing my happiness. It was too late; my back was turned, and I wasn’t listening. We loaded our small laundry pile into our plastic basket and onto the sticky leather seats of my car so we could head home. Relief at last!

As I lay like a naked starfish across the length of my bed, I didn’t radiate with joy like I thought I would. I felt cooler, I felt more levelheaded, but the only one I had to blame was myself. Rather than thinking rationally about my mood or my actions I allowed how I felt to determine how I treated people like my husband, my son, and even strangers within my orbit.

I could have scrounged my car for spare quarters to share. I could have thanked my husband for standing in the heat to rescue me even though he was frustrated too. I could have set a better example for my son. It’s hard to humble myself and ask for forgiveness. To point out that I didn’t do my best and that sometimes how I treat others is a dead give-away to what’s going on inside my head. My car runs. I have a house to go home to and yet, I was the thief today.

My blueberry lavender mental health milkshake 😋
My mental health reading list for this summer & for our big family trip to Glacier National park 🥰❤️

43 thoughts on “Thief of Joy”

  1. I understand your impatience. You said it best with your phrase “so delusional from the grotesque Georgia heat” which is something I relate to. I dislike being too hot, my brain shuts down. Next time when something like this happens you’ll do better. I like the idea of you being a pink naked starfish. Made me smile with the truth of it.

    Liked by 3 people

    1. Hahaha! Glad I could make you smile and I’m glad I’m not alone. This heat wave is killing me. It’s still insanely hot today but cooler weather is coming! Glacier National park has almost two ft of snow in some parts!! I hate the cold too LOL but off the mountains it should be rather perfect 🥰

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Despite your testy mood, this was still entertaining to read 🙂 Too much heat does sour the mood however! It makes your brain and body sluggish so if you’ve got tons to do, it’s easy to get snappy. Advantages? Your washing is bone dry within an hour of hanging, greenery flourishes, and it’s an excuse for a barbecue! Hindsight is a beautiful thing though and you could remove yourself enough to see how you would rather have behaved afterwards. Plus, spandex, though?! 😀 Nice write, LaShelle. Also, I love that you shared your reading library! I love knowing what other people are reading 🙂

    Liked by 2 people

  3. What a beautiful post, LaShelle. I think you hit on some essential truths about how powerful our own perception is. But I hope that are finding both some relief from the heat and some self-compassion – because just because others are suffering doesn’t make your body any cooler!

    I hope you have a great trip to Glacier! Yay!

    Liked by 2 people

    1. We leave the day after tomorrow and we’re all so excited!! I can’t wait to share things on the blog about our trip 🥰. I’m definitely terrible at self compassion but I’m working on it 🤪 thanks for the compliments and kind words. It means a lot!

      Liked by 1 person

  4. Beautifully written!!! I am salivating over your words!! So beautifully detailed- like I am right there with (heat and everything)!!! Oh man, I would’ve been the same… all my friends and family know that I can’t hide anything from anybody – one look at my face and you could pretty much read my mood (no matter how hard or not so hard I try to hide it)! Hope you get some reprieve sooon!

    Liked by 2 people

  5. I’m sure heat makes most people more irritable than usual. I wouldn’t beat yourself up too bad. Last week I took in my car because the air conditioning was blowing hot air. This same thing happened once six months ago. Of course, everything was working fine the day I took it in. It seems like half of the things we own have intermittent issues. When I picked up the vehicle at the end of the day, they told me “it fits into normal specifications.” That’s what I paid $300 for? 🤔 I was plenty irritable, and I pride myself on being compassionate. Big fail that day.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Ugh Pete I hate that! Nothing worse than paying a mechanic to fix something and they don’t! This is why I’m so thankful for my husband. He’s a Jack of all trades. If he doesn’t know how to do something… he’ll figure it out and if he doesn’t have the time… he’ll find a mechanic who will correct it exactly as he said it should be done. I’m lucky in that regard!

      Liked by 1 person

  6. And here you are saying you’re looking for classes to improve your writing. Well, good luck with that, because I’m not sure there are many advanced classes out there.

    It’s so cool that you’re brave enough to put your flaws on display. Airing your dirty laundry (heh), so to speak. If it gives you any consolation, Kuala Lumpur has hot weather all-year round, and I’ve never not sweat when I’m outside during the day.

    That looks like a tremendously delicious milkshake though, I have to say.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. The milkshake was incredible but my goodness do I appreciate your words! I was never very good at English classes where the grammar was correct but the write was so dull that it made me cringe. My husband and I joke about that because he got straight A’s for writing dumb stuff like “The cat sat in the tree. The cat was fluffy.” 🤣 I always had to write creatively and barely passed my class with a B or a C+. 🤷‍♀️ He once tried to help me edit one of my blogs and as soon as he began to cut things from it I made him stop 🤣. I really would love some creative writing classes though. I looked for writing clubs near me and basically anyone who might work with me and let me pick their brain. I found a college of sorts (more like a side school? Or a college that offers classes to anyone?) and I’m thinking about taking classes this autumn. Id really love to publish something someday, whatever that means or entails 😅. I’ve also looked up places to submit things I’ve written to. Not much luck there either. I don’t think there’s a category for weird life and farm stories 🤣😅🤷‍♀️


  7. Sometimes the summer heat just turns you into a monster. If it makes you feel any better we’ve all snapped because of the heat at some point.
    At least now you know how you should react if that sort of situation arises in the future (hopefully not though). But yeah, don’t be too hard on yourself- I honestly know how you feel and it happens to the majority of us. No one is perfect and we all snap at times.

    Liked by 2 people

  8. I feel ya … it’s triple digits in Florida and even though I’m spending most of my time in an air-conditioned house, just the idea of having to go outside and water my dependent potted plants turns me sour. I am finding myself to be rather short-tempered, and I do blame the heat, at least in part. I enjoyed reading this and appreciate your insights. It’s not easy to write about times when we falter as humans, but the important thing is we learn from those times and do better the next time.

    Liked by 2 people

  9. It’s at times like these that when we think about it we are truly human and flawed and vulnerable to reacting humanly when things are outside of our control. Reflection like this is perhaps the divine within us 🙂

    Liked by 2 people

  10. I do not know how you survive in that grotesque Georgia heat. We get a couple heatwaves in the summer, each lasting a good two weeks of temps at 90 to 100 with a humidex (our humidity index) adding 10 degrees or so and we are not happy campers. I keep hearing about all sorts of regions in the States with 100 temps on the regular. Nope. I shall keep my 60 one day, 80 the next Quebec weather.
    I say, give yourself a break. I bet everybody was feeling on edge.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Georgia is an incredible state 🥰 the heat wave was unusual for north Georgia this time of year since north Georgia is cooler and in the mountains but July and August can be unbearable. The wonderful news is that the rest of the year it’s STUNNING! So I’m rather lucky but this heat wave that hit the south this year is just crazy! Haven’t seen it this bad before!

      Liked by 1 person

      1. I’ve yet to do more than drive through Georgia. It’s on my extremely long list of places to visit one day. I shall avoid July and August 😉

        Liked by 1 person

      2. Wormsloe plantation in Savannah, Helen Georgia, blairsville, blue ridge, Suches, Ellijay… they are incredible and you should absolutely google Dahlonega Georgia Christmas because it’s the most magnificent thing you’ll ever see. Positively dreamy

        Liked by 1 person

  11. I try to think to myself that things could be worse when I’m having trouble dealing with something like uncomfortable temps, “stupid” people, broken mechanical things, etc.. I don’t always succeed but when it comes to weather I have been in enough different parts of the country at different times of the year to realize it usually CAN be worse. Very evocative writing of the situation, though.

    Liked by 1 person

  12. Us fair skinned freckled types do not do well in heat. When my daughter was little we started saying we were melting like the Wicked Witch of the West in the Wizard of Oz. We’d say it when we knew that one of us, or both, was really too hot to be nice anymore. We’d repeat it over and over in as exaggerated ways as we could to try and deflect from the mean thoughts we’d probably already said.

    Also, great reading list!

    Liked by 1 person

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