Petty Problems

I cry—really cry—once or twice a year at most. Sure, I shed the occasional tear at church or during a particularly emotional chorus practice or performance, but mostly I reserve the wracking emotion for … well, whenever it hits. My Swedish stoicism can only stave off the inevitable sob act for so long, though, and then I succumb to an inevitable flow of sorrow or sadness or whatever sensation seems to take hold.

This time, I accepted the full force of responsibility that came with buying my own house—the excitement of which culminated in a wonderful holiday with family, friends, and food, and the burden of which culminated (so far) in a leaking water heater and leaking dishwasher. Suddenly, my solid Scandinavian spirit was no match for waterworks of any kind.

As if I didn’t already have reservations about buying my own house, the fact that I started crying about a small stream of water on the ground seemed to seal my convictions (but not my leaky water heater). Not only did I feel like I was twelve, I also felt like I was utterly unprepared to deal with the complications and curveballs of owning a house.

My upper lip quivered, and I felt my father’s eyes on me as I had so many times during teenage temper tantrums. I knew this house was too good to be true, and I felt like a fool. Of course the house would have its faults, but couldn’t I have a couple years of blissful oblivion before coming to terms with them?

Later, my mom sat on the edge of my bed as I sniffled and bit my lip. “It’s a big fucking deal,” she said. “You really impress me.” And I didn’t know whether she was talking about the dishwasher, or the tears I had shed, or my soul, but I remembered when I had shed tears in France, lost and broke and unintelligible; when I had shed tears as a tween in my own loft bed after slamming the door and turning up my Eminem CD; when I had shed tears over so, so many art projects in elementary school that I thought had failed but in fact were far more creative than I gave myself credit for … and I remembered how incredibly lucky and privileged I am to have a roof, and a dishwasher, and tears to spare over them.

How incredibly lucky I am to have parents to watch me shed those tears.
To have the resources to fix things that need fixing.
To have the independence to learn from my mistakes, and the presence of mind to ask for help when I need it.
To receive loving kindness almost everywhere I look, but not rely on it for my own self-perception or self-preservation.

With all rationality, my sudden emotion was due to the stress of the day (moving, cleaning, dust allergies), unfamiliar problems in an unfamiliar territory, and maybe a little wine. But rationality isn’t really what got me this house. It isn’t what helps me find meaning and make decisions in life. And it certainly isn’t what triggered my emotions as I looked at the little trickle of water on my kitchen floor.

So, yes, I am absolutely worried about the water on my kitchen floor. I am doubtful of my own abilities to fix the problematic situations that present themselves in a new living environment. I am terrified of this responsibility.

I guess sometimes you have to cry about the things that are overwhelming—male, female, young, or old. And I’m grateful that I get overwhelmed by things like leaky dishwashers, because one day I will laugh about this and wish I had such petty problems.


Sometimes you’re happy /  Sometimes you cry 
Half of me is ocean / Half of me is sky 

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Petty Problems

One thought on “Petty Problems

  1. Your mom is right: It IS a big deal. But your strength of character is an even bigger deal, and it will see you through any challenges a stack of wood and concrete can throw your way. You got this, LaForce.

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