I Saw That

I’ll start right off by saying that my least favorite thing about driving is that I lose the opportunity to enjoy the scenery, take in the sights and sounds, and generally study the hundreds of people that I drive past every day. I count this as a great loss because I am not oblivious to the vast amount of interesting interactions that can be subtly observed from behind the safety of tinted windows, and I am acutely aware of the road hazard I would become were I to choose not to focus on the road itself. No matter how boring the road may be.

I became aware of this when, while teaching me to drive several years ago, the only time my father came anywhere close to raising his voice was when watching a middle aged couple rollerblade up Sheridan Road interfered with my ability to brake, as well as my awareness that the car was indeed, still moving.

Nothing happened, of course, other than a rather forceful braking. But after that, I tried to be more like a horse with blinders and less of a sightseeing people watcher while driving.

But rear-view mirrors are a gift to mankind. Especially mankind who drives more than 30 minutes each way to work and spends much of that in traffic.

That’s how I saw you.

I glanced into the mirror as I slowed, as my daddy taught me, and caught a glimpse of your face, your left hand resting casually on the steering wheel. Your brow was pulled down, ever so slightly, in the concentrated why-is-there-traffic-the-sun-is-shining-in-my-eyes-let’s-just-drive kind of expression that I imagine I wear rather frequently. My rear windshield and your front windshield worked together to tint the color right out of your face, but your short, scruffy hair rested at odd angles around your head, making you appear pleasantly approachable.

Eyes back on the road (where they always should be) I let my own car roll forward to fill in the gap that the infinitesimal advance of traffic had created in front of me, before glancing back to the mirror once more.

And that’s when I really smiled.

I saw you dancing.

In the time that I had driven those two yards, a worthy song had come on, and I couldn’t help but grin as I watched you move, bop your shoulders, swing your arms, and sing the lyrics to a song I could not hear. I felt the joy of your freedom expand in my chest, my traffic-heavy commute suddenly glinting with the silver lining of your personal dance party.

You couldn’t see me, didn’t know I saw you. But, in the few seconds that I watched, you happened to glance up, towards the bus in the lane beside us. The driver level with me, your own headlights stood next to the near back of the bus. I couldn’t see, but someone in that tall city bus must have caught your eye, because I watched your body still, watched the lyrics die, there on your lips. The dance was over.

The light, several cars before us, changed then, and I had to accelerate to stay with the flow of traffic. You switched lanes, sank into the blur of cars behind me, and I never saw you again.

But in those rear-view moment, I saw your dancing. I saw your goofy, your joy, your movement, and it really was the best thing that happened to me that day.

So please, don’t lose that. Keep dancing at stop lights. Keep yelling those lyrics out. Keep letting the small things be the silly things, because then, the big things start to become not so very big, not so very scary.

And we can all use a little spontaneous car dance party in our lives.



2 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. Grandma S.
    Jul 04, 2015 @ 09:15:18

    Come to think of it, I don’t remember your dad ever raising his voice.


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