You never really know how you’ll react to a crisis. It helps to have family and friends circle around, but in the end, you still have to deal with it by yourself. Especially when you’re single. For most of my adult life, I’ve had a boyfriend or husband by my side, but since moving back to Austin, I’ve had neither. Mostly by choice. Now and then I dabble in dating, but at the time of my house fire, I was completely and contentedly single. Still, it’s no picnic to go through a crisis alone. No one else can meet with the insurance appraiser, the contractors, the realtors, or make all the decisions necessary to reconstruct your house and life. I’ve always strived to balance job and home, work and fun, but I’d gotten off balance in recent years. With all the stress I’m dealing with these days, I know I need to find a way to relax now and then. It’s not an option.
My first escape from crisis management came on the third weekend after the fire. The Champions League final between Manchester United and Barcelona Football Clubs would take place in London, but I had no cable TV yet to watch the game. Now this might not be very important to most Americans, but for those of us who love soccer, it’s the biggest game around, topped only by the World Cup final. I needed to find a sports bar to watch the game with all the other soccer fans. I’d never done this in Austin, normally opting for the comfort of my own living room, but there were a few sports bars that focused on soccer, so I decided to try it out. Ruben, a friend from work and fellow soccer fan, met me at the sports bar, he cheering for ManU and I for Barca. The bar was crowded and noisy, we all screamed and groaned at every missed opportunity, saved shot, and goal. By the final whistle, I was hoarse from yelling, but I had a great time. And my team won! For a few hours, I forgot all about my problems.
Over the next few weeks, I take comfort in the small pleasures, the creature comforts. A new DVD player to watch favorite shows, hearing my dog Buddy enjoy his new squeaky toy, a massage, a pedicure. The house may look like a mess, but hey, my feet look good! I appreciate more than ever having my grown kids home on Friday night for Shabbat dinner. We don’t have our usual candlesticks or kiddush cups or nice dishes — they’re all in storage. We improvise and get Thai take-out; we say the blessings and enjoy a meal together. Afterwards, everyone spreads out to their favorite part of the house to read, play on the computer, or watch a show. We now have internet, cable, and even roku to stream shows from Netflix, wired and connected to the world, no longer ‘alone,’ which can be a comfort in itself. As if to confirm my thoughts, the next day my son, upon emerging from his room around noon, comes downstairs and says, Isn’t it nice to wake up to the sounds of the TV and internet and be able to check e-mail? I nearly laugh out loud, but instead I just smile. We all have our version of creature comforts.