Do you ever have one of those days where you wake up under a Little Black Cloud— grumpy, morose, and apathetic for no discernible reason? For me, those days are so rare that when they do happen I take an almost perverse pleasure in wallowing in my bad mood. So when I got out of bed the other day and realized this ill-tempered fugue was upon me I pointed a figurative middle finger at all the people who have “complained” about my “perennially sunny” disposition over the years and felt a certain smugness in the fact that I can actually have a crappy day now and then. I know you’re wondering why anyone would complain about someone else being upbeat and happy 99.75% of the time, but trust me… misery loves company and detests anything else.
I fumbled through my morning routine: lapping the cat, coffee, breakfast, lapping the cat yet again until I needed to make a decision about what to do with the rest of my day. Little Black Cloud followed me around like a stalker and suggested that since the rest of said day looked dreary and bleak why bother doing anything? My cat was in full accord and suggested a full day of sitting on my lap. I finally settled on riding my bike, hoping that would dispel my foul mood. Fortunately, I had library book to return and, no, it wasn’t a Sylvia Plath novel. Riding down to the library did nothing to dislodge Little Black Cloud, however, so I was stuck with it as I headed home.
There weren’t many people on the trail but those that were immediately on my main nerve—like the guy walking his dog who roughly jerked the leash each time his poor dog stopped to sniff. I mean seriously… if you don’t have the patience to allow your dog some sniff time, don’t walk him on a trail where a million other dogs have recently peed. How mean is that? Then there were the two moms with strollers taking up the entire width of the trail and who regarded my desire to get around them as an affront to their motherhood. It was like they believed that having babies with them exempted them from all common courtesy and allowed them unfettered access to the trail, others be damned. I’m not sure whether they expected me to ride in the little creek that runs along the trail, plod slowly behind them, or pull a machete out of my ass and whack a trail through the blackberry bushes on the other side. All I know that they copped a huge attitude having to make a little space for me—you know, the kind that only self-righteous, entitled moms can carry off with such assurance that they are right. The kind where you actually begin to ask yourself, Am I an asshole for wanting to use this trail?
By the time I made Whatcom Falls, Little Black Cloud was still actively stalking me and sniggering along the way. I grumped my way across the bridge, up to the parking lot, and over to the fish hatchery where I discovered that all the pools were empty, barren of any life, making me feel as if I were the lead actor in an Ingmar Bergman movie. The desolation was thick and heavy in the air so I wallowed in that for a while. Then, as I tried to move on, a group of 6-7 year olds out on a field trip swarmed around me trying to find a pool that actually had fish in it. It took me several curmudgeonly minutes to disentangle myself from them and head on my way. As I passed Derby Pond I finally felt a small chink in Little Back Cloud as I watched a dog that had just come back from a swim shake water all over its owner. But just as I felt my mood begin to lighten, I rode past a little girl on a bike. She looked exactly like I felt, probably because her father was riding behind her nagging her to pick up the pace. I thought whatever remaining joy there might be left to feel in my day was instantly sucked out of the air. Could this ride get any worse? Oh yeah!
My ride through this emotional hell continued up to Electric Avenue where I came across a dead kitten crumpled in the grass just beyond the shoulder of the road. Little Black Cloud literally laughed out loud as it punched me in the gut. That’s when, in Nietzschean moment, I declared, “There is no god!” I would have thrown my hands up in the air in defeat but swerving into traffic and getting creamed would have given Little Black Cloud way too much pleasure. That dead kitten had put me in a fighting mood. I wasn’t going to let my entire ride be grim because of Little Black Cloud. But it still had one punch left to throw. Just to prove it also had a sense of humor (albeit a dark one) as I rode along Northshore Drive a balloon tied to a mailbox was blowing across the bike lane. Now it was my turn to laugh. I’m pretty sure I even said out loud, “You have got to be kidding me!” Traffic was heavy and I couldn’t safely ride into the road to avoid it, so I had two choices. I could either continue pedaling and become the first cyclist to be garroted by an inflated piece of rubber with “Happy Birthday” written on it, or I could stop and wait for traffic to clear. Little Black Cloud was gleefully cheering for strangulation but I wisely chose to stop, wait, and ride around that ridiculous balloon. That seemed to deflate Little Black Cloud enough that it finally stopped messing with me and I managed to ride the remaining mile home without further incident to my tortured psyche. By the time I pulled up to our garage, I actually felt some of my perkiness return. After all, Little Black Cloud threw everything it had at me that day and I survived the onslaught. If that alone didn’t inject some joy back in my day, nothing would. Now it was my turn to laugh at which point Little Black Cloud, who is a very sore loser, completely dissipated in a puff of frustration. Take that sucker!
Anyway, the abundance of bonhomie I’m known and sometimes resented for made a complete comeback by dinnertime and the only thing following me around the rest of the day was my cat looking for another lap.
- Can Cycling Help People Heal from Trauma? (echointhecity.wordpress.com)