I walked out of the federal building and into a wet, hot, fist in the face of a day. I love summer in New England, but DANG. It was hot. The heat was radiating up off the pavement in waves. The sun was bright and it and made me squint. I walked across town to my car, weaving around the tourists who like to stop in the middle of the street for reasons I have yet to identify, and felt wilted and sweaty.
There was no way I was going to make it. Mean Ugly Tie Guy and his snarky ways were going to win. I'd go to the courthouse, but I wasn't going to get back to the Social Security office today. There wasn't TIME.
I stopped by my office for a minute and told my partner at work my sad tale while trying to angle myself directly under an air conditioning vent. "What are you doing HERE?" he asked. "One: It's your day off. Two: That guy does not get to win."
"Yeah," I said. I did not sound convincing to myself. "I'll go to the courthouse at least. I'll never get back downtown."
So that we're all on the same page: the town I live in is 20 to 25 minutes from the town that houses the social security office. This is not a major deal. Except:
1) it is summer
2) the town with the federal building is a tourist attraction
3) the courthouse is another 15 minutes beyond my house
4) road construction
I was also going to have to stop at my house for my checkbook because I didn't think the county clerk was going to take a debit card for whatever documents I was going to be getting.
Whatever, I thought, I'll just do it.
When I got to the courthouse, I went through -- and set off -- my second metal detector of the day. The guards at the courthouse were nicer than the ones at the federal building, which was something.
I checked the directory, walked down a hallway, and promptly got lost. Physically lost, as in "holy hell, where in this building am I going?" and also, emotionally lost as in "being here again is traumatic." I mean, the last time I had been in that courthouse was seven years ago and let's face it, that SUCKED.
I could feel a panic attack starting. I tried breathing. I tried focusing. And then I did something I don't usually do.
I let it go. All of it. The tension, the frustration, the race. The sense that SnarkyPants wanted me to fail on this day. The notion which had crept into my head that somehow, this was my ex-husband STILL managing to fuck with me. I put it all down.
My head cleared.
I went back to the entrance and asked the nice guard for directions. He told me where I needed to go and what to ask for and off I went to family court.
The lady who came to help me was kind and patient. She told me to have a seat while she fetched my records. I thumbed through a magazine and sat in the cool confines of the room, enjoying the quiet and the AC.
She came back. I wrote her a check. She gave me the documents I needed. I looked at the clock.
I had exactly two hours.
My whole body started to hum. Snarky Ugly Tie Guy, I thought. You have NO IDEA what's going to hit you.
It was ON.