The highlight of getting my driver’s license was having my mom send me on errands. I was usually just sent a couple of miles down the road to the store. It got me out of the house and occasionally I got to see and converse with people I knew. It was a social outing for a country girl like me.
One day my mom sent me to the local general store to pick something up for her. Upon leaving the store I drove around the center circle where the roads intersected. I could hear the tune of “you are my sunshine” played out on the gas pedal in the distance. I knew the melody all too well. I also knewCamliked his half of the road in the middle. In preparation of his arrival, I neared the shoulder as close as I could without running into the ditch. As I was making my turn to the right I saw the old car coming up the road. The driver was nodding his head to the beat of his foot, a few grey hairs escaping beneath the brim of his black hat. He tipped his hand in a wave as his car approached. As his tail lights passed my side window I felt a slight jerk accompanied by the sound of scraping medal.
I stopped my car right where I was and got out to inspect the damage. I saw about a three inch scrape mark. He scooted his car to a stop right behind mine, which meant he was facing traffic on my side of the road. He moseyed to the front of his car and rubbed his palm along the side and front. He removed his hat and bent over to get a closer look.
“It’s ok, honey. You didn’t hurt my car none.” My mouth flew open; the words you are the one who hit me did not come out. In fact, nothing came out except steam as my breath hit the cold winter air. I pointed my gloved finger to the metal exposed beneath the brown paint on my car.
“It’s ok, girlie. Don’t you worry none.” He shook his head and waved his hat, guiding me to my car.
“Tell your Daddy I said hi.” I heard his car door shut and “you are my sunshine” drift into the distance.
The two men standing outside the store were laughing. I pulled back up and stopped.
“He blame you for him running into you?”
“Yep, told me not to worry about it as I didn’t hurt his car.” I rolled my eyes, and they hooted, hollered, and slapped their knees a few times.
“We saw him coming around on your side and knew sure enough what was going to happen.”
“Well, now I have to go home and convince my folks he ran into me.”
“That won’t take much convincing, but if you need a witness we seen it all,” they assured me.
I rolled my window back up and headed home. I kept asking myself why I didn’t just tell him he ran into me. After all, I was on MY side of the road.
“You won’t believe what just happened,” I said, shaking my head, as I came through the front door with a brown paper bag of groceries.
“Camwas on the wrong side of the road as usual and hit the rear of the car. Then he had the nerve to tell me NOT to worry about it since I didn’t hurt his car.”
“Poor oldCam. That sounds like something he’d do.” I thought my dad was going to fall out of his chair he was laughing so hard.
Daddy got up and Mama followed him outside to inspect the car. They both shook their heads and laughed.
“Aren’t you going to make him pay for the damage?” Part of me wanted the old man to pay for playing me like a fool.
“Nah, don’t worry about it,” Daddy said.
“But it was HIS fault.”
“It doesn’t matter. He didn’t do any real damage.”
“But he acted like he didn’t do anything wrong.”
“Well, that’s just the way he is. No harm done.”
Cam and I continued to meet on the road from time to time. I always heard “you are my sunshine” long before I saw him, so I’d get over to the side as far as I could. We never met face to face again. I always wondered why he played that song on his gas pedal. I imagined it to be some sad tale of a long unrequited love. I was bummed out when Daddy told me he simply did it because he thought it saved gas.
Living in the Gap
March 13, 2012 – a cup of tea
The shrill whistle of the tea kettle tells me it’s time. I pour the steaming water into the ceramic pot. Cardamom, cinnamon, cloves, and other spices mingle with papaya, pineapple, orange peel, and lemongrass. The tantalizing aroma tickles my nose and envelopes me with a sense of peace. I slowly slip the hot liquid and breathe in between. I simply am.