We’re riding down the highway. I’m in the passenger seat and the Buick feels comfortable and still a little like a boat, so they say. I understand that. Perhaps I can add that we’re floating down the highway, ever so steadily.
The music is on and I’m finding my groove and singing. When I don’t know the words, I sing quietly or turn my head away so that Trent doesn’t hear me mess up. I'm not entirely willing to be vulnerable here. I know, I’ll work on it.
You get a moment in time. You get a glimpse of just a split second into the lives of the other boats on the I-84 sea. There’s a couple looking at each other with delight (please, look at the road too) and there’s a another woman eating a banana. I hope she gets more lunch when she gets to where she’s going.
Along the side of the road there’s a man standing beside a woman at her car. He leans in and she smiles sweetly. He puts his hand on her waist and pulls her close as we drive away.
We never get to know more of their story. Even if I met them, I wouldn’t remember; I wouldn’t recognize their faces. I’ll never know if the man and women who road in an silent tension resolved their differences or if he brought her flowers that night when her heart ached because she was tired of feeling so alone.
Before the age of cell phones and iPads and watching television in the car, my brother and I told our own stories. We looked in the car next to us and told each other about Sam and Lyle as they road tripped downed to Florida for their momma’s funeral. We laughed because Richard and Francis hated the way that Samantha’s feet stank up the car when she rested them on the dashboard.
These days I try to observe more, but there’s some storytelling that comes with that too. Imagination is birthed from curiosity.
The people around us are stories in skin. Most of the time we only get a quick glance into that story, much like when you look over at the book of the person next to you on the plane (you only feel comfortable to let your eyes linger on the page for a second). In that time, you see one word. Maybe two. You don’t know the plot or the characters or the twists and turns, the heartache and the celebrations. You don’t know if the main character has stinky feet.
But there are still some things we can assume. We know our own story and we know that there are similar themes; we don’t look at that driver, at that page, in a vacuum. We know they are going somewhere, coming from somewhere, and that they now or at one time had a momma who loves them very much.
In those momentary glimpses along the highway when I feel bold enough to sing (or shy because I don’t know the words), I see that I’m not alone. I don’t know the full story, but the glance is enough to celebrate that we get to be alive in our own stories, stinky feet and all.