Wednesday, March 2, 2011
In the few months between graduating from college and moving to Wichita Falls, TX to begin my years on active duty in the Air Force, I spent my time visiting family that I had seen but rarely while I was at school. During that time, I visited my parents in Charleston, SC, where my father was working at the time. At the end of the weekend, my mother and I planned to drive separate vehicles to my mother’s cousin’s home near Columbia to attend a family reunion.
Because I had not been to my second cousin’s home in several years, I planned to follow my mother to the reunion. However, my mother, being my mother, missed the entrance to the freeway. I, being, well, me, rather short-sightedly chose to not follow her through the back streets of Charleston. As a result, I found myself driving north on the interstate without a guide or a clue as to how to reach my desired destination. Because this was before mobile phones became an ever-present fixture in our daily lives, I was in a bit of a pickle.
Now, my mother had carted me around for a good part of my life to that point, so I knew well her propensity to, let’s say, take a liberal interpretation of the posted speed limit. Consequently, I was fairly confident that she would overtake me if I kept my speed below 65 mph. However, after about 20 minutes of driving, having seen neither hide nor hair of her blue Pontiac, I started to get concerned that I would pass our exit before she caught up to me. So, I lowered my speed to 55 mph, and entered another world.
It had never occurred to me, as I zipped down the highway at my standard “5 to 10” above the speed limit, that many of the cars flashing by my passenger window in a blur of color were, in fact, part of a hidden community of blessed souls who are perfectly happy in a 55 mph world. Used to the ever-changing parade of vehicles I would briefly pass when driving 70, I was surprised to find myself in the company of several other drivers equally spaced in the “slow lane” of the highway. As the minutes passed, I began to feel a sense of camaraderie with my fellow travelers, unconcerned by the cars rushing past as I enjoyed the late-summer scenery of the South Carolina low country.
After a while, I was startled out of my meditation by a flash of blue as my mother flew past me. With a small sense of regret, I silently bid goodbye to my companions of the past 15 minutes, pushed the accelerator, and resumed my rush down the highway to my destination.
I’m not sure if there’s a moral to this story. But, somehow, it seems to me there should be.