The tyres on my car were worn down further than my patience of late and finally one of them gave up on me, fair enough. I had been putting off replacing them for quite a while because in all honesty, and for the same reason I have been putting off upgrading my mobile phone, I don’t want to shell out for a big expense when there was a very real possibility that I might not live a whole lot longer. Why waste the money?
Anyway, the tyres finally made the decision for me, thankfully at home on a weekend and not on a lonely stretch of dirt road in the middle of the night this time.
I crawled the car with its dodgy ‘space saving’ yellow spare wheel to the industrial part of the city where the tyre place was in a depressive dissociative fog. If you go faster than 80kmp/h the car wobbles around so much that it feels like the wheel will fly off at any second, not that I would have minded a legitimate excuse to meet my maker that day.
The tyres would take a few hours and Hubby had previously offered to come and pick me up and take him to his workshop in the next suburb while I waited. I walked out of the little office and onto the road, glanced down at my phone and rather than call Hubby I put my earbuds in, pressed play on Eminem and started walking. The last thing I felt like doing was talk to anyone right now, I just wanted to wallow for a while, alone in my misery.
I walked through the suburb and found myself starting to wander along the highway in the direction of Hubby’s workshop, it was only about 5kms away, not too bad – even if the grass was long and I was wearing sandals. As I meandered on in my introspective daze I watched the huge trucks passing by, some dudes with low standards beeped their horn and wolf whistled at me from the window of a passing rig.
It reminded me of my misspent youth, the city I grew up in is very spread out with long stretches of bush and highways between areas and a friend and I would often walk home along a highway rather than catch the bus, middle of the day, middle of the night, we didn’t care. We both had raging eating disorders and felt the need for exercise far outweighed any risks, besides we were young and invincible! Cars of teenage boys would pull over and try and pick us up, we had to run off into the bush at the side of the road and hide on more than one occasion when they wouldn’t take no for an answer.
We were so lucky.
Back in 2013 when I worked in a government department that was situated on the edge of the same industrial area as the tyre shop, I had been going through arguably my worst mixed episode to date, I was in and out of psychosis and extremely suicidal but still trying to work 12hr days. I used to walk to the edge of the big highway in my lunch breaks and feel the rush of wind as the big trucks drove past, feeling that they charged me with special powers as I worked up the courage to dive in front of one them.
Glancing at the road beside me I thought about how easy it would be right now, to just jump in front of one, end my pain. But in the way that so many trivial things have prevented me from taking that final leap in the past, I remembered that I had already committed to buying four new tyres, nobody else drives my car so it would be a waste of money to knock myself off today.
So I just sighed and kept walking.
A police helicopter was circling overhead, coming down quite low as if it were looking for something or someone. Looking for me? My paranoid thoughts attempted to filter into my consciousness for a second and blur reality, no, of course not – don’t be stupid, I wasn’t missing, I had thought about running away but I hadn’t done it yet, had I? No, no I was just walking, for a reason, with a destination. I wasn’t doing anything illegal, well I think walking along the highway is probably frowned upon, but it’s just walking, people walk.
I tried to dismiss that nagging fear in the back of my mind that somehow, they knew what I was thinking, if they could read my mind, surely the secret workings of my mind would be enough to get me locked away for life? I meandered on keeping my head down, listening to my music and tweeting randomly. Finally I was nearly at the intersection to the road the workshop was on when I was suddenly greeted by a high chain mesh fence, presumably to stop people from falling into the tunnel or wandering onto the tracks.
I’d completely forgotten about the little bridge with the train line running under it, I’d only ever driven over it, now how the hell was I going to get around it? The only option was to run diagonally across the bridge on the busy 6 lane highway in my backless sandals, the helicopter was still hovering and this – I knew was illegal. I waited for a break in the traffic and made a run for it, somehow, I managed not to fall over or get hit by a car, that would have been awkward to explain to hubby! I had a brief rush of adrenaline and oh God, it felt so great to feel, it reminded me that I was actually alive.
When I arrived at the workshop, I felt much more alert and in the world again. Hubby noted my lack of vehicle immediately and quizzed me on how on earth I got there, he raised an eyebrow when I told him I had walked. “All that way?! That’s really not safe…” he sighed disapprovingly, I just shrugged like a sullen teenager told him I needed the exercise and changed the subject. My safety wasn’t exactly at the forefront of my mind. We had a coffee, I made small talk with his colleagues and he drove me back down to the tyre shop where I forked over the national debt and retrieved my car.
Do you ever wander down the highway?
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A homonym of pensive meaning deeply, seriously thoughtful. Though, it's also a pun, the 'sieve' part of the word alluding to the object's function of sorting meanings from a mass of thoughts or memories. (Source: Pottermore)
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