How Taylor, Colbie and John helped me process all my feelings

Driver shifting gears in a vehicleImage credit

After I quit my job, I drove home listening to Taylor Swift. She is both famous and infamous for singing about her feelings and I think I needed to hear someone that liked to dwell on them. Mine were coursing and clotting through my veins. Taylor’s song, The Moment I Knew, played and it could’ve been written for my night. It’s about Taylor standing in the middle of her birthday party in red lipstick, eyeing the door expectantly for the man that said he’d come- but doesn’t. After awhile, she cries in the bathroom and she knows it is over. And it is heartbreaking. And irresistibly cliche.


It began with the cringe-inducing, slow shutting of one door, the old woman saying sadly-almost scared-like, “leave us alone, please.” Then there was the view from the glass door, late in the evening, where I saw three women huddled on a couch, the middle one crying, and I still nearly knocked because I hadn’t made quota yet.


At another door, an elderly couple appeared and the lady asked me, “why would you knock so late in the evening?” I replied, “just doing my job ma’am.” And she shook her head. She muttered, “Quite the work.”


One house I went to belonged to a friendly gentleman standing firm on the other side of his glass front door. I gave the pitch, told him about the water that was at risk, and he held up a hand to stop me, “we have clean water, we don’t need any, alright?” Immediately I could tell he didn’t understand me, so I held up my hand in response. I said, “Oh, I’m sorry Sir, Let me explain. We’re working to protect national waterways. Our small streams and rivers?” He smiled big and I should’ve seen his sickness. Staying behind the glass door, he pointed past me and I turned to look out. He said,


“see where the grass meets the neighbor’s driveway? Run to it. Get the hell off my property. I’ll sick my dogs on you!”


I was totally taken aback and, obviously, offended. As I walked away I swung up my clipboard and said tartly. “Thanks again, Sir!” And then I heard the door creak open. Then I heard him say, “get him boys!” And I booked it beyond the invisible fence where bloodhounds screeched to a halt and growled savagely, eyes fixed on my face.


All I could think to say when I looked back was, “Really?” And I knew I was about to lose control. I knew I had had enough of slammed doors and games with psychopaths and invading family dinners and emotional moments. All these events pancaked, one on top of the other, right until the moment that the hounds were sicked on me. The moment Satan’s voice scowled, “Git him!”


The Moment I Knew.


I kept listening to the song, but then I got sad. I thought about money and where to, now and why hadn’t I stuck it out? The whole idea of this move started mock me. I was once again unemployed and heading nowhere fast and I berated myself for it. How stupid could I have been to leave a good job in Minnesota to pursue pipe dreams?


Nestling into these thoughts, I clicked the next button three, maybe four thousand times until I came across, “Think Good Thoughts” by Colbie Caillat, letting it weave its way gently into my ears.

I won’t let the negativity turn me into my enemy. She says.


After several minutes, I was able to put some space between my feelings and I. I could think logically about these thoughts, were they true? How can I know? What is the history of my bad thoughts? What are the good ones? Where are the blessings?


And I began to muster up a little laugh. Two weeks- TWO WEEKS I have been here and I cannot believe that I was already throwing on the victim garb. Oh what drama. What a dramatic little tantrum I was having. Take a breath, in and out, this is nothing a glass of milk and the novel on the nightstand can’t fix. Think good thoughts.


By the time I had gotten home I mellowed out with John Mayer’s Paradise Valley.

I was able to roll my eyes about the nice woman who offered me a job. She gave me her number, the address of where to meet her on Saturday morning, but neglected to tell me the name of the company. Only later did this make any sense as it was a semi-scam dressed in good intentions. Then I recalled another scene from the night: A foreign woman’s voice calling out to me as I left her door. “Vatch for ve snakes. I saw them around my yawd earlier.” It was pith dark and slippery from the rain and I must’ve looked so weird high-kneeing it off her property like Richard Gere in Runaway Bride. I thought about how each one of these stories were like huge hilarious things in one week and a half of work. Experience you couldn’t get anywhere else.


I was good at canvassing, but I care more that I am getting better at handling disappointment. More and more I am shaking myself awake before I get lulled into all the lousiness. Because it’s not all lousy, despite what the bad feelings argue. It’s quite beautiful. It is another pit and climb in my story. It is the night Taylor got me and Colbie saved me and John Mayer coasted me home. It is me reflexively reining in my mind. It is me, seeing clearer and feeling better.