“Are you parked on your usual street?
I felt the camera bag swung around my shoulder creep down my left arm. “Yea, just over here,” I shot back, trying to balance the three bags and tripod I was holding.
I glanced up-and-down Kingman, a quiet side street a block from my apartment. Both sides were a Henry Ford car collection—black on black on black. Not a red Dodge Avenger to be found.
In the four seconds in which Meg asked about my parking space, I remembered that I was not parked on Kingman. I was parked on 14th Street. I had parked there late Thursday night after a client meeting, telling myself I would move it by 7AM the next morning.
It was Sunday.
If you live in Washington, DC, you understand the paralyzing fear of lying in bed at night wondering if you parked illegally. If you do not, oh please, allow me. I am an expert in this arena. I was once towed from the parking lot of my own apartment building. There is no way a car could remain three days in a metered spot on 14th—arguably one of the busiest streets in Washington, particularly when brunching—and survive impoundment.
I dropped my bags at Meg’s feet and jogged two blocks up 14th. And there, 100% untouched, without a single pink slip tucked under my windshield wipers, was my car.
I hit the locks, hopped in, and honked at Meg standing across the street.
I am not used to having good luck.
I told you that little story to tell you this: Things have been going weirdly well for me over the past month. Unnervingly well. I’m ready to get hit by a bus to balance my unnatural streak of good luck. For someone who’s been towed seven times and racked up thousands—thousands—of dollars worth of parking tickets, this whole morning was outside my comfort zone.
We drove to our photo shoot, ranting about our luck at not having a measly thirty-dollar expired meter ticket plastered to my windshield. Inside, I replayed a conversation I had earlier that week:
In a heart transplant, a body will reject a human heart as a foreign object. Sometimes, our lives reject situations—its way of telling us we’ve embarked on foreign path.
“Oh my God, look at me! Miss Frizzle!!” My friend Suzanne, a late-twenties blonde babe with the soul of an eighty-year old, fluffed her up-do in the mirror and turned back to face us.
“How are you a human!?” I winced.
I pride myself on having a wide-range of friends. People who, on the surface, have nothing in common with one other. When associating myself with another human being, I have one criteria: Don’t be boring. I love people who are one-of-a-kind. Without writing a novel on her personality, my friend Suzanne is Mrs. Potts from Beauty and the Beast. She loves cats, family time, suburbs, hugs, and everything else I positively hate.
I am fascinated by Suzanne—white lab coat, poking at an unearthed specimen, kind of fascinated.
Suzanne and her husband (#97 on the long-list of things we don’t have in common) are career workers on the Hill. I do not see the allure of a life in politics, but this morning Suzanne’s position worked to my advantage: She just finished giving Meg and I a behind-the-scenes tour of the Capitol. We were outside Paul Ryan’s office when I turned to Meg—a Canadian, in case I left that out—and mouthed, this is a big deal.
Even with Senate in recess, we had to let Suzanne get back to work. I closed with the Cliff Notes version of my life—the book I was photographing, a few clients I was talking to—and she beamed about her position and how she loved being back on the Hill, where she rightfully belonged.
Your life knows when it is, and is not, going down the right path.
“It’s weird,” I finished, “Things have been going, kinda well for me lately. I’ve always been this person with really shitty luck.
“This is really weird, but it’s almost like a dog wearing a shock collar. Whenever I wondered off somewhere not originally laid out in my life plan, all these bad things started happening to me. It’s like some weird intervention was trying to shock me, trying to guide me back home.”
I didn’t imagine Grandma Suz would relate to my morbid analogy, but she went with it. “No, I totally get it! It’s like a heart transplant. Sometimes, a human body will reject a new heart because it’s a foreign object. When we go down paths we’re not supposed to, our bodies will reject it.”
I thought back to the odd twists and turns my life took over the past five years. There are so many instances I look back on and think, “Why did I ever think that would be a good fit?” I took a job in investment consulting when I outsourced Finance 101 in college. I moved to Boston when, five years ago, I left Iowa because I hate cold winters. I left DC, a place where I made friends easily and grew my network quickly, to move to a city and start from scratch all over again.
One after another, a series of unfortunate events—I call it the Black Cloud—followed me. And here I was, five years later, with a human reincarnation of a Disney character explaining it to me.
If you every stopped and thought, “Things shouldn’t be this hard,” maybe you’re right—it shouldn’t. Maybe you’re in a situation that isn’t a good fit.
If you can’t make friends, perhaps you’re in the wrong city. If you keep fighting with your boyfriend, maybe you’re with the wrong person. If you can’t get ahead at work, perhaps you signed on for the wrong job. If you keep getting towed, maybe, JUST MAYBE, you’re in the wrong f&*%(#&ing spot.
I’m not sure what’s going to happen next. I could type up this blog post and have my computer crash. I could get mugged when I run upstairs to grab my phone. My car, now safely parked on Kingman—I assure you—could finally get towed (I’m due).
But for now, I live in my favorite city of the world. I have friends who would drop everything for me if I asked. Before Christmas, my name will be printed on the cover of a book. Right now, my body isn’t rejecting any foreign objects, because everything is as it should be.