Any Sign is a Relief If You’re Lost

September 5, 2011


Yesterday was a day for a couple good omens, which it seems like everyone could use right now.  One good omen involves some friends of ours who may be coming to the end of a very dark period in their lives.  The other was that my garage is clean.

One is possibly a bigger positive occasion and omen than the other.

A couple years ago half of our house was destroyed in a fire (a story for another time).  During the lengthy rebuild we lived crammed in the other half.  By the by, if you ever want to see an insurance representative move with serious purpose, tell him that if they can get the power back on in the other half of the house, you’ll stay there rather than uproot and move in to a rental home, which the insurance would have to pay for.  Anyway, our belongings were all moved in to the garage, and it was filled to the point that you could only edge your way through things.  Certainly the least of our concerns during that period, but a hassle, nonetheless, and sort of emblematic of feeling surrounded by chaos or dis-ease.

So, six or seven months go by, and the rebuild is done, and we move our things back in.  Literally a few weeks later these friends of ours are over.  They’re going through a terrible period, along with so many people.  Jobs lost, new jobs gotten and downsized, debt, and now – they were telling us – foreclosure on their house.  They and their two little children would be staying with friends, their pets would be staying with relatives, and they were looking for a storage unit for their belongings; one they could afford.

Yeah, that look.

So, fortuitously, we suddenly have space for their belongings, and immediately offer our newly vacated space.  Now, during hard times in my life people have been their for me, so in a funny way I’m almost grateful that I get to be there for someone else.  But, of course, there’s that petulant little part of my brain saying, “No!  I don’t wanna!  We just got it back!  We need that space!  I can finally move around out there!  I finally feel settled!”  You know the look the popular girl gives the unpopular girl when she says she really likes playing board games with her parents?  Or the look the conservationist give the guy who says he likes to leave the engine on while he refuels his SUV, because that way he can keep the AC blasting?  That’s the look the rest of my brain gave the petulant part.

“Oh. My. God. You did not just say that.”

“Well, it’s just, you know.  We’re finally not surrounded by boxes… and clutter and…”

“Way to be selfish.”

“You don’t want to help your friends?”

“It’s not that, I just mean… maybe… I just said I didn’t really want to…”

“It’s not doing good for others if you want to do it.”

“Well… yeah… okay.”

"I can't find the Christmas lights anywhere!"

So we got them set up.  Ideally it was just for a couple months, but we were realistic.  And I found myself again squeezing through the garage, like edging through a crevice, my gut sucked in, scuttling sideways to get to the Christmas lights.  And today, a little over a year later, he’s found a decent job, and she’s found them a great place to live.  Today we moved their things out and they get to be in their own home again, with their own belongings, their pets.

And then, amidst a week where things were feeling a little out of control, a little burdensome, in which the next few months were seeming a little tough, suddenly I have a clean garage.  I know, it’s not the same thing, but it makes me happy.

So it seems like there’s not a lot right now that seems hopeful in terms of the economy, and progress.  Schools and social programs are being gutted.  But there’s this one little event where things are turning for the better.  He likes his new job; it even has benefits.  The house has a yard and even a running trail nearby.  And sometimes when you’re seeing so much bad, so much that concerns you, a little positive event – an occasion, an omen – that might seem almost absurdly small in the scheme of things, can make a big difference. It’s not much, but in a way, it’s everything.

Photo credits: 

  1. “Ms. Bandante” by Will Engelmann, Flickr
  2. Image from Star Wars, property of Lucasfilm
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About The Byronic Man

Recently voted "The Best Humor Site in America That I, Personally, Write," The Byronic Man is sometimes fiction, but sometimes autobiography. And sometimes cultural criticism. Oh, and occasionally reviews. Okay, it's all those different things, but always humorous. Except on the occasions that it's not. Ah, geez. Look, it's a lot of things, okay? You might like it, is the point.

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17 Comments on “Any Sign is a Relief If You’re Lost”

  1. truthspew Says:

    I too tried to be there for friends. But having it abused a couple of times and having things get slightly ugly, well now I’m sort of put off by it and moving more to the camp of “You’re on your own now!”

    The ‘slightly ugly’ part involves me doing something I really dislike doing. When I tell you to “Get the fuck out!” you know it just got ugly.

    Family is one thing. Friends a completely other thing. But luckily family is secure enough now that I need not concern myself with that ever happening anytime soon.


  2. gojulesgo Says:

    I love that you told this heartwarming tale with a dose of reality! (The picture of the Ew Girl was perfect. Yes, I’ve named her already.) I’m really happy to hear about your friends’ good fortune, and your sparkly clean garage! We have absolutely no excuse for the fact that, 1+ year after moving in, we still can’t get our cars in the garage.


    • Byron MacLymont Says:

      Yeah, I tend to be reclusive and private to a fault (a big fault; San Andreas type), and then I wonder why people don’t feel more connected to me, so, thanks!

      I’ll look for occasions to bring back Ew Girl. My own little shout out to you.


  3. Blogdramedy Says:

    Like toilet paper, you were there when needed most. 🙂


  4. Deborah the Closet Monster Says:

    I’m almost grateful that I get to be there for someone else.
    This year, I’ve been able to help out some friends who needed it. Part of the process of getting that help to them was negotiating with them whether they could or could not “take” from me.

    Like you hint at, I’m lucky enough to have had people to help me through many hard times. Without my godmother, most of all, there’s a very good chance my mom wouldn’t have been able to keep a roof over her kids’ heads. The way I see it, her kindness at that point became my incentive to help if ever I was in a position to do so.

    The fact that I was able to help was a huge point of gratitude for me. It’s an affirmation that, even if I have roughly a gabillion dollars of student debt (a number that used to be roughly gabillion*1.4), I did make some good choices along the way. And, good for a real-life hermit-in-training like me, it reminds me how connected we are. Their pain? My pain. Their happy? My happy.

    Now if only I could persuade Ba.D. to see it’s only a redistribution of past care . . . !

    I’m glad things have worked out for your friends, and that you have your space back. I agree that seeing those little points of brilliance in the darkness remind us darkness isn’t nearly all there is.

    In sum, I love this post so much.


    • Byron MacLymont Says:

      Thanks, that means a lot – you being a purveyor of high-quality meaningful posts, and all. Funny, those tiny moments of interconnection – the way they add up.

      And I hear you on the student loans…


  5. nmaha Says:

    That’s a real honest post. I think most of us are that way. Our heart wants to give, but our practical minds don’t always want to play along.

    Having you house back the way you want it is not a small thing, so cheers to you and your family.


  6. She's a Maineiac Says:

    I have a firm belief that what you give, you get back eventually. Loved this post. One of my friends had her house burn down a few years ago and I didn’t even hesitate to offer her entire family a place to stay (she has five kids and two dogs) We have a small apartment with only one bathroom, so I really didn’t think it through I suppose. I have to admit to being a little relieved when she found another place to stay and then I felt a twinge of guilt. Back in college, I remember I was without a place to stay for a few weeks and I will never forget a few friends who offered up their couch for me, so I thought I’d pay it forward a little. You are a good friend, Byron, and no doubt your friends will be there for you in the future if you need them.


    • Byron MacLymont Says:

      Sometimes that feels like a little bit of instant karma, though – you offer without hesitating, so it’s like you’re a good person at your core, and then they don’t need your assistance. I’m a good person, and I don’t even have to do anything!

      But then you feel like a crappy person for being glad you don’t have to help and it’s back to square one…


  7. madtante Says:

    This is VERY good news. Hell, I’m about to piss myself cos I’m going to spend my 40th in NOLA, where I’ve *always* wanted to visit (for practically free!!). It really takes something little. It’s be 24 hours (minimum) driving in a car, in hurricane season for a weekend.

    I’ll take it. It’s the chance to have some kind of freedom, some feeling of being able to do something that be on somebody’s clock for far less than I worked so hard to put myself through school. Maybe I’ll feel like a person, just having that feeling that I can do what I choose, when I want to.

    (I’ve never had a garage, so I guess for me it’s about being someplace other than my jobs)


  8. Remediator Says:

    Knowing the story behind this post, I didn’t think a lot about it, but the adoring comments have reminded me about how honest and downright good you are. You’re right — these interconnections do add up. Sometimes I think they equal all the good that there is in the world.


  9. The Good Greatsby Says:

    I wish I had more friends like you. I say ‘more friends’ but I really mean any friends.


  10. andshelaughs Says:

    What a great feel-good story! Good for the little white angel side of your brain for bullying the petulant side. I hope you enjoy your uncluttered garage!


  11. gerknoop Says:

    Loved this post! Very heartwarming. Good will come back to you. 🙂


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