Sit in the dark and think
Sit in the dark and think
She didn’t seem to grasp the concept of a phobia
I shook my head in agreement and laughed
I know when I told her I clipped out on hills
Because I have a hill phobia
She asked me what I feared most
Stalling and falling I’d said
She told me all the reasons that wouldn’t happen
And why I should clip in and push and pull
While she stood while not moving at all
On a hill clipped in and standing and talking
Which left me annoyed while still afraid
My hill phobia and height fear can’t be
Persuaded away by rational argument
They’d be long gone since I’d have
Dissuaded myself from my foolishness
And I’d have stood on top of that dome
Luxuriating in the breathtaking 360 view
I drive east to an appointment along Route 3 talking hands free with my mom making drawn out plans to attend a friend’s memorial on Monday. There are lots of details about time and place and dinner before or after. While I continue to talk I notice big police activity on the westbound shoulder. I’m staring at two black and white Suburbans in line with red and blue lights flashing. There sitting on the curb between the SUVs and an old beat up blue Toyota is a black woman with hands behind her back in handcuffs. Sobbing. Sobbing. Sobbing . Uniformed men form a circle around her. A third flashing car arrives, then a fourth. 6 or 8 men surround the woman now while she endures flooding tears with hands bound back. I continue east for half a mile until curiosity and concern trigger a U-turn. “What offense could a woman driving a shabby old car have committed to provoke handcuffs?” I ask my mom, talking to the air in the car as I drive. “Maybe she just killed someone, or stole the car…” she says more to discourage me than out of believing those reasons are actually real; she knows I’m thinking something different. I confirm her concerns as I say “or maybe they’ll take her to jail and she’ll be dead in 3 days.” And then “you know there is almost no way I’d ever end up in handcuffs on the side of the road.”
Now I’m slowly passing the scene for the 2nd time. The officers are peering into the rear window of the car as I turn the corner just past the action into a neighborhood of neat brick colonial homes. I make another U-turning and I return to the corner, creeping along to get a closer look. I stop the car and look left at the activity. An officer whose tight-fitting uniform stretches across his belly notices me watching while two others each take one of the woman’s arms to help her stand. One officer turns her around and removes the handcuffs. She rests her arms across her chest as two of the uniforms talk towards her while two more continue the rear window peering. Still more mill around and I am surprised that one township has so many officers.
I think the woman is safe now. I pull across the divided road to turn left heading east on my way again. My schedule is tight today and I have to hurry to stay on it. Half an hour or so later though I am heading back, retracing steps, approaching the scene anxious as I get close to see the flashing lights gone. They are gone, but standing alone on the side of the busy road is the woman with her phone flashing high in the air as her arm is raised above her head. I’m not sure if she’s talking or acting out frustration and I notice her stuff is in an eight-foot long line on the grass between the sidewalk and curb. The contents of her car seem to have been emptied there. I wonder if they had stood by while she removed each item before they took her car away, or if they helped her arrange everything in that neat line. I pull past and then turn back into the brick house neighborhood, one more time to U-turn and return to the corner.
This time I park. I’m wondering if it’s safe to offer the woman a ride; do I know for sure she is not dangerous? I get out and walk across the street and as I approach the woman stands alongside a hedge and she stares a stern look at me from behind dyed red plaits.
“I saw the police here before “ I say, “I wanted to see if you are OK.”
She responds, speaking in a Caribbean accent “Yes Ma’am, thank you, I’m waiting for a ride.”
“Someone’s coming to get you?”
“Yes Ma’am, thank you, someone’s coming.”
“I was worried about you” I say without thinking.
“Thank you Ma’am” she replies, as I turn to walk back to my car.
I wish she hadn’t called me Ma’am.
Today I sat next to a woman while attending a closing for a transaction we’d worked on together for months. We had met in person only once before, but had exchanged dozens of emails and had many brief phone conversations.
She was always rushed, often harsh. I liked that she didn’t waste time. It was easy to see that she’d never be pushed around. I liked that too. I’d always tried to be clear and concise when we spoke. There was no spare time.
Today her face was tired. She’d arrived late for the meeting, not apologizing when she entered but saying “I hate GPS”. She had come from a distance, another meeting. She had more meetings following ours.
Our part of the closing was brief, and there was time to talk. I commented about how busy she was. She looked me in the eye for the first time. Then she leaned toward me and whispered, “A dear friend called me this morning and said ‘happy belated mothers day’. I was puzzled. I thought it was strange. I tentatively said ‘thanks…’ Then my friend said ‘did you get the message I left for you? Bill died on Sunday” Bill was her husband, He died two days ago”
Slowly, she softly said, “I had seen that she called, but I hadn’t had a chance to listened to her message…”
Life’s transitions sunset night dawn breaks inviting open
Doors wide expansive vistas dizzying beauty calling step out
Walk through outstretched arms open heart pounding which
Route why no color-coded trails for life heart’s desire obscured
Endless choices mesmerize scintillate potentially changing
Life’s direction like a pinball’s ricochet joyous terrifying
Overwhelming options tempt confuse the lost and level headed
Inciting hearts and heads into battle for the upper hand
Fear immobilizes cautious and uncertain heads confidence
Activates hope full hearts questioning yearning gathering weighing
Target fixed one step at a time obstacles shrink passion
Quickens desire propels forward giant courageous strides
The “road closed” blockade encountered by the cyclist is, to her, an invitation to pedal around the orange sign, the striped barrel, the blinking lights. Her disbelief that there is truly an impossible to traverse breach in the road is steadfast. On an occasion when there is an actually gully so steep and rugged that it’s impossible to portage the bikes, or a completely missing bridge, exposing rushing water, she stands over her bike, in front of the obstacle, and drinks a long draw on the water bottle. She turns the bike around, backtracking toward the blockade. For the rest of the ride, all rules of the road are carefully followed. She has learned that apparently mutually exclusive qualities embodied within one human should be celebrated. Her contradictions create a bouquet of traits that confuse and entice.