Wednesday, August 17, 2022

Driving after Dark

When I was younger, my grandmother lived by a lot of rules that made no sense to me:  "You don't want to be a woman driving when it gets dark."  "It's not good for a woman to make more money than her husband."  "You can't do any work on a Sunday" (except, of course, for making a big meal for after church).

As I get older, I'm seeing some wisdom in her words.  I thought of her often on Monday.  I had scheduled a quick trip to Columbia, SC to return a borrowed countertop oven to one friend and to have dinner with another friend.  If everything went according to plan, I thought I could be on the road by 7 or 7:30.  I wanted to be up through the mountain passes before it got really dark.

My plan fell apart.  I never got a text from my friend saying she was done at work and to meet her at the restaurant.  Finally, at 6:40, I texted her, and she texted back asking if I hadn't gotten her texts.  And only then did my 3G flip phone show me with an inbox of texts.  I had held the phone for hours with no notice of incoming texts.  Grr.

And yes, replacing that phone has been on my to-do list all summer.  I will get that done by the end of the month.  I will join others in the 21st century and have a smart phone.

Come to find out, my friend had been waiting for me in the restaurant for almost 2 hours.  She was very gracious, and we ended up having a great dinner, despite my distress about missing her texts.  My other friend offered to let me spend the night in her guest room, and I said yes.  I really didn't want to go to dinner at 7, eat, and then drive 2-3 hours back to my mountain house.  

I didn't have any overnight supplies, but that was OK.  I lucked out because my friend had an extra contact lens case and disinfecting solution.  I slept in my clothes, got up in the morning and after a delightful time of frothy coffee drinks, I was back on the road.  My eyes felt better, and it was easier to see.  I thought of my grandmother who told me that truth years ago.

My first thought was that I don't deserve these good friends, and I'm intrigued by that thought.  My friend who sat at the restaurant waiting for me to show up said, "I know you're not a flake.  It's not like you not to show up.  I knew that something weird had happened."

We spent yesterday at the DMV.  We went to the office at Brevard, hoping for better odds of getting this chore done.  We were successful, but we did have to wait in line for 4 hours before being seen.  We each brought a book, so it wasn't too bad.  I was reading William R. Forstchen's One Second After, about a nuclear blast as experienced by the residents of Black Mountain, which is only half an hour from my mountain house.  I found it absolutely compelling.

I woke up this morning with very sore feet from standing much of yesterday and with the surrealistic feeling like I had fallen through some sort of hole in time or space.  Today we load the car, and tomorrow we drive to my sister's house in Maryland, and then on Friday we get access to seminary housing.

In short, I expect to feel displaced again this week.  But I also expect to feel a sense of homecoming.  I'm also thinking of driving after dark as a larger metaphor:  for my life, for gender, for heading into the future.

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