No, not children.
The dilapidated trailer with wooden boards was appropriate to transport a jet ski, a snowmobile, or maybe some lumber, but it was definitely not the right choice for hauling goats at 70 miles per hour on I-380.
As someone who grew up on a farm, it was obvious to me he should have hauled these animals in an enclosed trailer or one with much higher sides. I could see the goats’ heads moving as they gazed at the cars and trucks zooming past. They looked like very young kids, just toddlers, really, in the goat world.
I know goats well enough to know they can jump. As the saying goes, if goats are in the pasture, it’s because they want to be there. If this guy thought the goats were going to stay in that trailer, he was wrong. At least, that was my first thought.
My second thought was that I was thrilled to be en route to see Jenny Lawson, AKA The Bloggess, and this scene might have easily worked itself into her blog or one of her books if it were happening to her. Jenny’s a #1 New York Times bestselling author who often finds herself in strange situations. Her blogs and books are hilarious. I kind of expected to see Jenny standing next to the guy who was fumbling around all the kids in his trailer, but I didn’t spot her.
I guess she could have been hiding.
I pulled into the parking lot at The Hotel at Kirkwood Center, straightened my shirt, and threw my purse over my shoulder. When I got to the garbage container near the front door, I stood on one leg in somewhat of an ill-aligned yoga pose to remove a piece of tape that was stuck on the bottom of my sandal. It made a sound every time I put my foot down on the pavement, and it was driving me crazy. It took a good minute to scrape off with my fingernail.
I imagined everyone looking at me from inside the hotel, standing around and pointing fingers. But then I figured that everyone who was coming to hear Jenny Lawson speak obviously had a good sense of humor, social anxiety, or both. So I decided not to worry about it.
I walked into the hotel. A female employee at the counter to my left greeted me.
“Hi, can you tell me where I can find The Bloggess?” I asked.
I don’t think she heard me. Or at least, she pretended not to.
I looked straight ahead and Jenny Lawson – The Bloggess herself (!) – was standing directly in front of me. She was less than ten feet away. At the very moment I recognized her, she extended her arm for a handshake toward another woman dressed in a skirt and sweater.
“Hi, I’m the library director . . .” I heard a voice say. The Bloggess was being greeted by the organizers of this program, and I just happened to be right there post-awkward yoga pose as they exchanged pleasantries.
I excused myself, raced down the hall, stopped at the bathroom, and then found a chair in the huge room where many others had gathered to see The Bloggess in person.
Jenny blogs and writes about mental illness. She has depression, anxiety, avoidant personality disorder, OCD, rheumatoid arthritis, autoimmune issues, and trichotillomania. There might be more, I’m not sure.
She swears. A lot.
She has a huge following.
According to the flyer I was given before I took a seat at the hotel, “Lawson’s blog (TheBloggess.com)is award-winning and extremely popular, seeing more than half a million page-views per day. Known for her sardonic wit and her hysterically skewed outlook on life, Lawson has made millions of people question their own sanity.”
The Bloggess came onto the stage and thanked everyone for coming. She said she knew how difficult it was for some people to get out of the house to get there. Then she did some deep breathing and wondered out loud if she had taken her anti-anxiety meds or her ADD meds. Neither one had kicked in yet.
She told stories that made me laugh out loud.
She told stories that caused audience members to pause.
She read a few pages from her latest book, Furiously Happy.
She answered questions from the audience.
She told a story about tripping over a dead bird in Des Moines and accidentally seeing a vagina.
She told a story about being in a New York City hotel for a book tour and not being able to leave her room due to her severe anxiety. Eventually she opened her windows to hear the sounds of the city. Then she looked down onto a fountain and from her perspective – and perhaps hers alone from the 14th floor – she saw what she described as a beautiful rainbow fire resulting from the sun hitting the water just right. Everyone else who walked past didn’t see it, she said.
But her perspective was beautiful and unique. Maybe being trapped inside a hotel room was beautiful in its own way.
When she started blogging about her real experiences, about not having the energy to shower and not leaving the house for days, she said many people came forward to tell her how important it was for her to tell her story.
My sister struggles with depression.
I had a panic attack once.
My husband takes meds for anxiety.
Yes! Me, too.
Thank you. Now I know I’m not alone.
I don’t have anxiety or depression, at least nothing severe enough to seek treatment or a diagnosis, but I care for my teenage son, Isaac, who has anxiety. He’s able to leave his hotel room, but he has a difficult time leaving the elevator in the lobby because he likes to push the buttons 1,453 times in two hours and watch the doors repeatedly open and close.
Earlier this week he sat in nothing but a towel for thirty minutes in the living room while his brother yelled at him to take a shower, and he yelled back, “Shower closed!”
It feels like we’re living in an alternate universe. It's a life that other families with autism can understand.
The Bloggess encouraged us to share our stories, to be real, to tell about our struggles and our realities.
“Your community is waiting to read your words,” she said.
I felt like she was talking to me.
I bought her latest book and stood in line to get it signed.
Jenny Lawson treated all of her fans as though they were rock stars. She smiled so humbly when people handed her piles of books to sign. She posed for pictures.
“How are you doing?” she asked me, beaming.
She didn’t look like she had mental illness, just like my kids don’t look like they have autism. She didn’t seem like she had any trouble signing books and meeting people, and yet I know that wasn’t true.
“Hi! I'm a writer and a blogger, and I'm so in awe of the big community you have created and the number of people who follow you,” I said. “I write about my kids who have autism, and so much of what you said tonight really resonated with me, especially the part about not being alone.”
She gave me a few words of advice as she signed my book.
She was present and authentic.
I wished her well and thanked her.
I was furiously happy.
I thought about her talk all the way home.
And as I was driving home in darkness, just north of Cedar Rapids on I-380, a small white figure ran in front of my car. It wasn’t close enough that I needed to slam on the brakes, but it was close enough that I saw it scamper across one side of the interstate to the grassy median.
My first thought was that it wasn’t big enough to be a deer. A fawn wouldn’t be that small. It wasn’t shaped like a dog or a wolf. Nor was it a cat or a fox or a mountain lion or a bear.
I may have been the only one who saw it, but it was my experience. It really happened.
I am true and real and honest.
I’m sharing my story.
I saw it with my own two eyes.
It was a goat.