Some Days Are Better Than Others

The good and bad days are the ones we remember, but it’s the Tuesdays that teach us the difference.

I awoke to the sound that alerts all experienced pet owners of impending disaster as surely as air raid sirens warn of incoming bombs. To my sleep-addled mind, the immediacy of the “upcoming” event didn’t quite register, but once the dog barfed down the neck of my pajamas, it was too late to take evasive action. I should have known at that moment that it would be one of those days.

The sheets were barely in the washing machine when my husband hopped in his truck to run an errand, and a hideous screaming sound came from beneath the hood. It’s always been a mystery to me that an automobile can be perfectly fine when you turn off the engine and walk away, and when you come back, it has either suffered some kind of automotive arrhythmia or been the victim of a mechanical murder. Whichever one had stricken Old Silver, it didn’t sound good.

Coaxing the truck out of the driveway and calling from the driver’s seat, my husband shouted, “I’m going to try and get her to Tupperway,” and began a blistering 3 mph sprint across town.

I had yet to even have coffee, and this certainly didn’t appear to be the day to give up caffeine, so I dilly-dallied, savoring a fresh cup of wake-up while waiting for the sheets to finish spinning in the washer. When the phone rang, and the voice on the other end began sputtering indignantly, I was a little confused.

“I cannot believe you would speed right on by and leave me on the side of the road!” railed my husband. “It’s bad enough that every other car on the road has been shaking their fist at me. It’s not like I like crawling along! Jeez, what is wrong with people? You didn’t even wave!”

I let him run out of steam before I broke the news. “I haven’t left the house yet. That wasn’t me.”

“Oh. Are you sure?”

I was sure. Taking that as my cue to get it in gear, I grabbed my keys. I wasn’t even to the stop sign at the end of the street before I realized that this day was not going to get any better. Inexplicably, all the electronic messaging in my car began to speak French.

After four years of Spanish classes, I took a French class in college. I never got much farther than, “Bonjour. Je m’appelle Susan,” before realizing that this had not been a smart educational move and dropped the class like a hot baguette. This situation was a painful reminder of my inability to parle français.

As though reading my mind, the car began cycling through all the romance languages. I almost launched into reciting the Pledge of Allegiance in Spanish to see if any of the words on the dashboard looked familiar. No comprende. Regretting my inability to convert kilometers per hour to miles per hour, I sighed. It wasn’t even 10 o’clock and the day had gone to hell in a handbasket. I can laugh about it now, but at the time all I wanted to do was to put on fresh sheets, sell our cars, and go back to bed.

Twenty-odd years ago, I received a Christmas card from my Great-Uncle James which he inscribed: “Merry Christmas. Some days are better than others.” Though my great aunt talked so fast that we could only assume she had an alternate oxygen source, he was a wise, slow-talking man of few words. On that basis, I interpreted his message as a thesis on the state of his and my great-aunt’s life as rural octogenarians. But it has stayed with me long enough to make me wonder if his words were a more profound philosophical guideline for life in general.

When we measure out the days of our lives by placing each one in a column of good or bad, there are those that stand out on either side. It’s easy to slap a label on the life-altering days – the ones we will always remember, as bright red checks in the win column. Those days, we marry our true love, get the job, bring new life into the world, or step over the threshold of our first home.

We’ll also never forget those that fall squarely in the losing column and are recorded with bold, black X’s. We lose a loved one, say goodbye to a childhood home, receive disappointing news, or physically or metaphorically stumble and fall. Both ends of the spectrum stand out in the stories we will tell of our lives.

In fact, most land somewhere in-between. These are the Tuesdays of our lives, the days when we actually do the complicated business of living: loving and being loved, giving and taking, working and playing, waking and sleeping. On Tuesday, the peanut butter to jelly ratio may be perfect on our sandwich, or it may hit the floor jelly side down. Perhaps we hit all green lights only to find that someone took our parking space. Or maybe nothing happens at all.

Tuesdays don’t linger in our minds. They lack the fresh start of Mondays, Wednesday’s mile marker of being halfway to the end of the week, the anticipation and planning that marks Thursday on the calendar, or the red carpet atmosphere of Friday, leading us to the celebratory and sacred weekend. But where would we be without the Tuesdays that make us appreciate the extremes? They make the highs of the good days better and help us put the bad ones in perspective to look for the lessons, and sometimes the laughter.

I’ll always revel in memories of the good days, and try to find the lessons and laughter in the bad ones to soften their blow. The dog-barfing, multi-lingual, mistaken identity day was in the bad column, but it made the next bad one funnier when the same car randomly began blowing its horn in the middle of the night.

Uncle James was right. Some days really are better than others. I know there will be many good days and bad days down the road. I’m grateful for the Tuesdays that come in between to remind me of the difference.

By Susan Frampton