Tuesday, February 23, 2016

The F-word

     My label was too much and made him nervous. That's when he got quiet and started counting the miles to our destination.
     I'm not sure why I wanted to get out so much on a Monday morning, whether it had to do with my new medication or the warmer weather or the headline in the Post.
     Some Uber guy went on a killing spree, that's what it said.
     Was that why I wanted to take an Uber so badly to Springfield mall? Did I need to put my system to the test, to make sure I really could leave my house at any time I wanted? Maybe.
     It was so much fun.
     Until yesterday, I had only taken an Uber to the hospital. This would be an adventure.
     I didn't tell anyone where I was going. That was important.
     If anything happened, Ron or the boys could track me down by my phone, I figured, not even bothering to SnapChat my intentions.
     I had a seizure about 15 minutes before I left but kept getting ready to go, not altering my plan or even stopping to videotape it. I made sure the door was locked and Maggie was back in the house while the weird feelings faded.
     She likes to jump the fence, pretend to be my neighbor's dog for a while and then jump back over again. I go to the back door and there she sits, like she was mine the whole time.
     I decided to  learn the driver's name this time so I could thank him properly. It took him a few more minutes than the last one.
     I had 12 quarters in my pocket for a tip because my wallet held only receipts and plastic.
     We discovered something in common by the time we hit Fairfax County Parkway. We both moved here about 10 years ago.
     I said it was hard to stay in one place after moving every couple of years, that I didn't realize how fun it had been until my husband retired from the Marines.
     We talked about where each of us would go, if we had to leave Springfield and move somewhere else.
     The driver had been to Las Vegas recently and liked the desert part between it and San Diego. I like San Diego better, I said, because the ocean makes up for it not having enough trees. I didn't mention the cliffs that go right into the ocean, but that's what I saw, in my mind.
      When I told him North Carolina was my original home. His eyes lit up in recognition and he named a town I had never heard of down there where his own relatives live.
     I told him I'm different now in a way that makes it harder for me to fit in when I go back.
     "You and I couldn't ride around like this, without someone noticing," I said.
     He understood.
    "If I rode around with a black man, it would be even worse," I said. "Someone would stop and stare...on purpose!"
     He understood.
     The problem with that, I continued, is after living here, I can't go back there without wanting to fight. I didn't say argue...I used the F-word...Fight.
     He understood.
     At some point, before I told him my label, I asked where his home had been before he moved to Springfield.
     It made sense, especially with him liking the desert so much. He was from Iraq.
     We were almost at the Metro exit when I said the E-word, the one I should've left out of my story. It only takes a couple of minutes to get to the mall after that.
     I didn't get up the courage to try and say his name the right way, but I did tell him mine before I got out of his car, taking his hand in mine for a warm hand-shake, a real one.
     I told him to look me up if he decides to move out west someday, especially if it's San Diego. I might still be in Springfield, but it's a wonderful place to visit.
     When Uber asked me to rate him later, I gave him the most stars possible.