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Thursday, July 14, 2011

Meeting by Accident










A Cautionary Tale


You are in the driver's seat for this leg of the journey. However, if you are always looking in the rearview mirror, plan on being rear ended. I speak from truth. It happened to me this week, in the line at Wendy's. The guy behind me wasn't really behind me, he was in my trunk with his truck. It was one of those rare moments in life, when you foresee events before they happen. He was too close. Bumper to bumper. No room to spare. So I inched up. Tried to give us both space. Space erosion. His grill up in my grill, I inched ahead once last time. Phew! Two feet apart. Breathing room. Bam! Just like a comic book caption...Boom! Pow! Zowie! Nowhere to go. Nothing to do. Except for one exception. It didn't have to happen.

I was in a hurry. To see a friend. Minding my own business, so to speak. Garden Variety business. I saw the line of cars. I had a choice. I said to myself the following...This will make you late. This is not a good idea. Go down the road where it is not so crowded. This can wait. Friends and business cannot. This could end badly.

I ignored all the road signs. Dismissed my own instincts as ridiculous. Pulled in. Pulled up. Pulled over to exchange licenses and registration. 

I made a new friend. We became close. We shared our personal information and vital statistics. We talked about family. How his niece got ripped off in an accident the week before. How I got lucky on the way home last week when a driver crossed the double yellow. We trusted each other to be fair. To be honest, I didn't want to tell him how much he looked like my brother, the one I lost a few years back. He shook my hand, apologizing for the dirt on his palm, but he was heading back to work after a long hot morning in the caves beneath the bluffs by the river. We exited the parking lot with no contract to bind one another to our promises, but I can tell you that we were both true to our word.

One of the mysteries of life as an artist, is a truth I doubted when I read a cautionary tale by a writer I admire. She warned that the most stubborn, least agreeable and the toughest critics on the journey to success owned the best seats in the house. Literally. First class tickets. Front row seats. Close enough to touch. Dear enough to hold. Family. Husbands. Children. The people who claim to know you best and want to see you change the least. 

Their sabotage is not intentional. It is inevitable. They see you as who you were. You move as who you are and long to be. So you bump into each other. You are not where they expected you to be and they were not paying attention. They kept inching up, into this new space as yet unfinished and without boundaries. 

Families tend to keep each other in the same place and the same time. Mom is Mom. Wife is wife. Etc. Etc. Etc. Just as children struggle to fit in, while wanting to stand out, I do too.

Friends are more accommodating. They are patient when you move up a size or down. Change the color of your hair. Rearrange the furniture. Take a leap of faith. You trust them to be with you. Friends accept when you are in a different space, a different place and a different time zone. Even new friends that unexpectedly show up in the passenger seat.

I love the image of Thelma and Louise, hair flying, arms outstretched with the top down in the convertible and music blaring on the radio. even as they lunge over the edge of the cliff, they are smiling. Grinning in idiotic agreement that this is one swell ride.

Mom is the one leaning over the backseat, threatening, "Do I have to come back there?" Meatloaf Mom. Steady Mom. Wife and companion. Christmas card writer. Healer. Comforter. The "always" in "I'll always love you". No matter what.

Wives have a bit of an edge in that with age, goes vision, hearing and a few other essential senses. Husbands and wives need each other to fill in the details that go missing.

But remember. You passed driver's ed. You no longer need the instructor beside you with his foot on the emergency brake. This is not an emergency. This is an emergence. A change. Within reach.

We may not be in the same place or time, but being the one headed from here to there, trust me when I tell you. 

Push me, I will run. 

Pull me, I will resist. 

Believe in me and I will leave a clear path to where you can find me when your journey begins. 

In the meantime, fasten your seatbelt and keep your hands off the radio.

Adirondack Chairs