Summer Rage Storms

My Sunday was starting off strong. After a wonderful weekend with one of my best friends in upstate NY for her bachelorette party I was heading back to NYC to catch a train in time to teach my evening meditation class in Capitol Hill. I was making good time. I had satellite radio in my rental car, and I was jamming out to the best of 80s hits.  A 2 hour trip back into the city was taking me only about 90 minutes. I even called my husband to tell him I might be able to make an earlier train. Woo!

And then I got into the city. I was still feeling good – only 8 minutes to go before Penn Station (according to my trusty googlemaps GPS)! And then, all of a sudden, the city was a mess. Apparently there was some big bike race and they had shut down a ton of major streets and thoroughfares – especially around my destination – the Penn Stations Hertz rental return. 

At first I was optimistic; it’s no big deal!  I’ll find another way to get there.  Plus, I made great time! I can sit in traffic for 10-15 minutes, no problem.  Then the clock started to tick longer and my positivity started to turn sour. I was getting pissed. What the heck, bikers?! This is NYC! Who do you think you are having a race like this?! (Yes, I was talking to myself).  Then things started to get desperate. I googled an alternative Hertz return kiosk at 21st Street.  I called Hertz to make sure it was OK to drop off at an alternate location and after about 3 different transfers to other people was told “not sure but you can try.”  (Thanks guys! Super helpful…)

Google maps declared I had ‘arrived’ as I pulled up to the parking garage at 21st anxious to find the Hertz kiosk and find my way back to Penn Station.  Unfortunately,  the attendant looked at me blankly as I desperately flailed my Hertz return pamphlet.  “No, more here.” He said sternly with a strong Eastern European accent. What? Are you sure? 

Ok, this sucks but I can do this, there has to be another option here, just deep breaths it will be OK. (More talking to myself)

I was getting a bit more elevated in my desperation as I tried an alternative return center on 19th Street. It was coming up as an “open return center” on google again so we should be good right? It took me another 15 minutes to get there, sitting through traffic. Again, I pull into a nondescript parking garage (because there are no Hertz signs to be seen) and was met by a parking attendant who had no clue what I was talking about. 

At this point, there’s a chance I could miss my ACTUAL train, and the dreams of arriving home early were long dashed by the biker gangs of NYC. I was distraught, I was hot, my heart was palpaltating, and I really had to pee. It was not a pretty sight. Through my frustrations, the ridiculousness of the whole situation, and my current urination situation, I started to cry. And then I started to really cry, kind of like a rage-cry if you will. Loudly.  And I’m pretty sure I really freaked the parking attendant out.

I felt frustrated, defeated, and I really let it out.  I got in my rental car, hysterically cried for about the next 15 minutes and eventually guided it back to Penn station (honestly at this point the bike race was probably over).  The entire city traffic negotiations ended up taking about 2 hours, a good bit longer than the trip it took to drive 80 miles from Upstate.  

Needless to say, it was excruciating.  But I safely returned my car, still kind of sniffling, and then stepped out into the NYC sunshine. I had made I to my destination through an incredibly circuitous and stressful journey, but I had made it, it was sunny and luckily I still had enough time to discover a delicious (albeit expensive) juice bar around the corner and calmly board my train.  

I realized something really interesting as I sat there sipping on my kale smoothie reflecting on the emotional roller coaster I had just experienced: initial feelings of excitement, then worry and concern, and then desperation, and pretty quickly after that rage.  The storm of my emotions escalated fast, and it was a BAD storm. B.A.D. But then…amazingly…the storm abated.  I was a little tired, but the world hadn’t ended.

I talk all the time in my mediation classes about watching your emotions, your thoughts. And just NOTICING what’s showing up for you.  Letting yourself pay attention to how you feel, what you feel, in this very moment. Not judging it, not shutting it out, pushing it away, just sitting with it, and watching it change shape. 

A storm rushed in, and then it rushed out. Yes I was tired, blotchy, a little embarrassed, but mostly I felt OK.  It dawned on me that it was because I let the storm of emotions wash through me that I was OK. I didn’t push down my frustrations, swallow my anger. Squeeze it all down, try to numb out.  I didn’t even try and hide my crying to the cars around me looking at me like I was some crazy lady. I just felt it. All of it. waterworks, anger, the whole kit and caboodle. It wasn’t fun, but it was necessary.

So I invite you, the next time you’re experiencing a little (or big) emotional rage storm. Feel it, lean into it, and then be done with it.  These summer storms pass by as quickly as they come. 

Joanna Andreae