The Deal

My kids and I came back from a road trip. A trip across country, and for me, a trip across time. In a rented car, shaky tired, exhausted from emotions, lack of sleep, strangeness, removal from comfort zone, coming in from the freeway, too fast, I stopped a foot out in the intersection. A car, coming down a hill, the driver careful, minding his own business, sliced across the license plate of my vehicle. I was sorry and the other driver was kind, reminding me of an old, lost friend. Minimal damage, yet I was mortified. I had put my kids, the other driver, myself in jeopardy. It was unacceptable. Conscious of time constraints, now acutely aware of my exhaustion, consumed, I bundled the kids and our baggage off and returned the car to the rental depot. They too were kind. Why not?

Completing all the appropriate paperwork, I apologized and then headed for public transit, the Skytrain. Finally, I was headed home. The trip had been a mad dash across country to perhaps capture a dream. It had not been successful. Nor had it been a failure. The friend we had gone to visit, a man, had accused me of being emotional. Quick to change my mind. An accusation I had heard before, from other men, and been diminished by. He had advised me he could not keep up. Perhaps, but perceptions.

I don't think it's so much that females change their minds, it's that they have the ability to try on different emotions, see how they fit, roll around in them for a time and then "discard" if inappropriate, unsuitable, the fit isn't good. Most men don't have that freedom. To kill the dragon requires a different focus. Hiding in the forest, comforting the kiddies, riding the roller coaster of the unknown, fear, the requirements are not the same.

I advised the man it wasn't necessary that he keep up. What was necessary was that he was. He did not understand.

From the moment of conception we all begin our journey, our search, our trip through time. Traveling in the car that is our lives. Seeking self. Wholeness. Completeness. Balance. Bumping, touching, sometimes clinging to others, men and women, absorbing and casting aside bits from each, some carefully, some with abandon. Fitting the pieces of our souls into the puzzle that is I. It's an odd puzzle. Many fail. Some have minor accidents. But continuing on the journey, getting the paper work done and being able to find kindness, humor, hope, that's the deal.

Finally, reaching the Skytrain, I found a seat and dozed. Last stop, I dragged myself off the train, heading to the stairs. Only a few more blocks. Walking up the stairs, I was "goosed" from behind. Turning around, my face accusing, there was a young man, maybe 16, maybe 18. Embarrassed, he pointed to his friend, begging me to believe it wasn't him, it was the friend. Good kids, maybe a mistake, probably high jinx, I shrugged, too tired to care, and said, "cool," continuing my way. Poor kid, confused, he trailed behind and tried again. "I really am sorry, Miss," he said.

This was good. I smiled. And stopped.

Putting my arm around his shoulder, I could see the blind panic in his eyes. "Don't worry," I said, "you made my day."

The panic now turned to bewilderment.

Holding tight, I repeated, "Don't worry, when you call a woman over 40 Miss, you make her day."

Reclaiming my arm, I turned, only two more blocks, then home.