Why December 2nd Matters

We fly the flag at our house every December 2nd.

This year, for the first time, I notice its wrinkles, saggy middle, and a lengthening shadow.

I smile. Kind of like (cough, cough)… us! 

Twenty nine years ago today, DH and I married.

That ’80s hair, the pouffy hat, and those puffy sleeves offered omens of flyaway adventure.

Arrive they did.

We’ve traveled by land, water, and sky. In planes, trains, boats, ships, and submarines. Up mountains on Segway and in aerial trams. Over rivers and through woods (yes, sometimes to see Grandma). In three decades, we’ve slept in all 51 states plus 18 foreign countries on two continents.

Some doubted we’d travel so far for so long. A tumultuous five-year courtship preceded our noon-time wedding ceremony.

Pre-marriage counseling smoothed our ride. We predicted our issues and developed a response plan. How’s that for two crisis communicators?

We committed to travel together. Through Everything. Our platinum bands meant more than simple finger metal.

Shout-out to Dr. Tim Van Duivendyk for his wedding “charge:” you’ve got to meet in the middle with each other — and the middle that’s in the middle of those two middles is very difficult to find. 

Whatever road we’re on, DH and I aim for the middle lane. Sometimes, we don’t arrive at the same time. Sometimes, somebody must wait waaay longer than they’d like for the other. But, always, we meet in our middle. Eventually.

In writing this, I realize this strategy applies to many life situations.

Yes, December 2, 1989 was our Big Day. Big, too, for others in other years for other reasons:

On This Date  BY THE ASSOCIATED PRESS

1823 President James Monroe outlines his Manifest Destiny doctrine.
1969 The Boeing 747 jumbo jet debuts.

Whether it’s across a century or only half as long, the years, the middle, and the adventure roll on.

For each of us in our own ways.

For DH and me, we’re making more than a life together.

We’re creating a Story.

What’s yours?

Road Trip Twist

NOTE: Not all road trips are alike. The following story offers a compelling twist on the Journey tale, one that only Kay Cox — our dear writing retreat friend — could tell, and well.

Guest blogger Kay L. Cox writes poetry and stories from her San Antonio home. She’s an experienced blogger (check out her writings on www.picklesandroses.blogspot.com). Earlier, Kay worked as an art and family therapist, teaching graduate-level art therapy classes in the US and abroad.

Thank you, Kay, for joining our RoadBroads team today! — Melanie & Ellen


Road Trip With a Twist

Kay L. Cox

My lunch plate that Friday held sliced roast beef, slathered with gravy. But the instant mashed potatoes looked like a sauce, thanks to too much liquid on top. I spy broccoli. Fresh broccoli. I can’t wait. I grab my fork. Then the broccoli’s so tough, my fork can’t cut it and even my knife has a hard time. It’s so tough, I can hardly chew it.

I open my mouth to complain. Then I remember.

The previous Sunday. Dinner at my son’s house.

Emotion overwhelms me.

My family is active with local churches in helping documented migrant families as they head through San Antonio enroute to their next destination by bus. We were asked to house two families. One family stayed one night. The other was a young father, Juan, and his 2 ½ year old son, Ricardo.

When I arrived at my son’s house, the pair sat on the sofa watching television. Ricardo snuggled, sleeping, on his father’s chest. I greeted Juan in Spanish. He nodded, giving me a big smile. I noticed an ankle monitor on Juan. What have we come to in this country?

I went to the kitchen to help prepare the dinner. Chicken casserole and steamed broccoli. Soon, Ricardo awoke and Juan sat him in his lap to eat. Ricardo’s big brown eyes and shy smile won our hearts. He was so well behaved, almost too quiet. I surmised that in his long treacherous journey from Guatemala he had been taught to be very quiet. Ricardo looked at the plate in front of him. His eyes grew bigger still as he looked at the plate in front of him.

He picked up a piece of broccoli, looking at it as if he had never seen such a vegetable. He spoke softly to his dad. With my limited Spanish, I think he called the broccoli a tree before plopping it in his mouth. Then he picked up another, looking at each “tree” carefully before putting each piece in his mouth. Over and over, Ricardo did this, eating bite after bite. I think his body was craving fresh, green food. I wondered when he had last had fresh vegetables.

Never have I seen a child that young eat broccoli like that. Any complaints I might ever have about food from now on fall into a different perspective. I have so much to be grateful for.

My daughter in law bought clothes and diapers for Ricardo, along with snacks and books in Spanish, and his long journey with his father riding multiple buses to Washington. She found a children’s backpack and filled it. Ricardo proudly put it on and clung to her leg at the bus station when she turned them over to the woman who guided them to their correct bus.

What a beautiful experience to share what we take for granted. We were able to make a difference in making someone’s life easier.

I will never eat broccoli again – be it steamed-to-mush, raw or tough — without thinking of Ricardo and Juan. And I’ll feel grateful.

All we have to do is be kind to each other. It’s that simple to create change.

From Car to Bus and Back Again

The lady promised us the Boulder bus service was “quite efficient — very good actually.” We met her as we searched for our first bus stop near 28th and Valmont. Her directions took us to an easy-to-find pole with a simple sign, clearly marked:

Such a beautiful sign — and so easy to find!

The morning bus run from our townhouse to the Boulder Bookstore exceeded the stranger’s boast. We arrived early for class.

It marked our first official group working session. Three hours later, we left like we always do after experiencing a Max Regan seminar: eager, confident writers itchy to engage every storytelling possibility that our creative minds can conjure. The experience resembles a church revival, minus guilt and a tithe.

Ellen and I headed to the designated bus stop. Based on our morning experience, we felt confident in our ability to navigate the afternoon ride. Our only worry (at least mine; Ellen trusts me more than she probably should) was getting to the bus stop on time.

We arrived early at the designated location given to us by RTD (Regional Transportation District). The map planner had told us to board the 2:24 p.m. bus arriving at Spruce and Broadway.

A city bus neared us. It was 2:17 p.m.

Not ours,” I told Ellen before I saw our route number splashed across the top front of the bus. With ticket in hand, I waved at the bus driver as he sped by. He shook his head “no” and motioned to the next block. I began to run, waving my arms back at the driver as I yelled at Ellen behind me, “I’ll hold him for you.”

No such luck. The driver boarded three passengers then took off. I stood there in Texas disgust then waved harder and yelled a little louder. Don’t mess with a RoadBroad. Especially when she’s running and frustrated.

Can you see the red RTD sign? It’s behind the tree, peeking out from its upper left branches.

After the drama, we retraced our steps. There’s the bus stop sign we missed. Who looks behind a tree for a bus stop sign? Especially when it’s half a block from where you’ve been told to be? Do you follow the bus company’s specific instructions or do you wander sidewalks looking for hidden signs?

We parked ourselves at the corrected bus stop, crossing our fingers that maybe, maybe we’d get lucky and another #208 would miraculously appear. Then, an elderly man  with a beautiful German Shepherd joined us at the bus stop. He told us that sometimes RTD is early, “but never that early.” He shook his head in disgust. 

Of course, no later bus came. After our new friend got on his bus, Ellen and I looked at each other. What now? We now had no way of getting home because we didn’t have the later bus schedules. Who comes to town with all the city bus schedules in their backpack? Especially when they’re in town as a working visitor?

To the entire mess, Ellen offered one word: Uber.

Uber joins the RoadBroads team.

A minute later, we had Uber on the phone with a driver on the way. We met Frank of the silver Nissan Versa near Walnut and Broadway. We unlocked the townhome, an hour later than a pre-paid bus coupon had promised.

Of course, Uber cost five times the value of that coupon. But we traveled from where we were to where we needed to be. Time and place no longer mattered.

Now we’re rethinking those books of bus coupons we bought long distance.

Today’s two learnings?

One good experience does not ensure another.

Sometimes cars really are the only way to travel.

****

By the way, the answer to Thursday’s post: the photo is of from high atop the Rio Grande River Gorge Bridge outside Taos, New Mexico. Sara Jackson: you got it — almost! The gorge bridge is a little bit upstream (or is it downstream?) of the Taos Box. Thanks for the guess!