There’s always more to a story.
I offer you this unedited piece of my day yesterday. An odd little story. Not as a warning, or for fear, or even to feel good or be concerned. But to notice the places in you the story lights up to say “here…. Look here”. In every story there are a thousand messages, a thousand answers. Probably more. What is here for you, in this story? Beyond the trigger places lie the truest “morals”. May you find your gem within these words.
En route to the country side, to the farm; Our sanctuary in the mountains. Just the kids and I for some well deserved connection after a busy weekend. As part of our routine we drive through a small country town where my favorite coffee shop is to “fuel up” with some breakfast and gas for the car. At the gas station, our first stop, my son insists on getting out to help pump the gas. He wants to remove the gas pump from the car, hang it up and screw on the gas cap as he always does. I hesitate for a moment, but he insists so I let him join me. As he is struggling to get the gas pump out, the gas pump unexpectedly comes flying out of the gas tank spewing gas like an out of control garden hose everywhere. Most notably, right in my sons face and eyes.
We are both doused heavily in gasoline. He screams wildly. I grab the hose and tell him to close his eyes and get away. All of this is instantaneous, split second reaction. He squints his eyes shut and backs off. The hose is still spewing so I throw it down, grab him, and run into the convenience store looking for the bathroom. Turning on the sink I pick him up and, face up, put his whole head under the faucet running water over his face and eyes. He relaxes. His face no longer contorted in an expression of contraction. I ask him to open his eyes. He squints and starts to cry.
“They hurt”he cries, “I can’t open them”.
“Ok” I manage, “keep them closed.” And I guide him out of the bathroom.
The man working at the cash register is completely unhelpful. Doesn’t seem the least bit interested. As though if I asked him for help he would stoically instruct me to the end of the line to wait my turn behind the people buying gum and cigarettes. But a customer, in fact at the very end of the line, leaps forward with concern. A middle aged man verging on elderly with an armful of convenience store snacks, drops his loot and rushes to my side.
“What do you need?” He asks with one pointed focus.
“Is there an urgent care facility near here?” I focus with him, thankful.
“Yes, just down the street. Get your son in the car and I will follow you out and show you.”
I do what he says. He is so sure and concerned.
He directs me to a certain exit out of the gas station and tells me where to go, motioning in a direction and waving his hands. He repeats the directions at least 3 times to make sure I got it.
“It’s so close, you can see it from here.” He reassures.
“Thank you” And I really mean it.
I drive to the stop sign he pointed to and make the right hand turn he indicated. There is nothing there. I try again, circling back. I think maybe he didn’t know his right from left, so I try both sides of the street.
Meanwhile, my son is crying passionately in the backseat with a wad of paper towels over his eyes. “Don’t worry” I comfort “I ll find this place soon”. Between sobs he says “I am not sad mommy! I am just making myself cry to clean out my eyes!” And he resumes his full on crying. I am starting to think we might not need this urgent care place after all.
I take a deep breath and I pull the car over to an empty parking lot and punch in the words “urgent care” into my GPS. The place shows up right away. According to the GPS .2 mile away. I happily listen to the talking box as it directs me in a completely different direction, but now I have an actual address and a talking box so I feel secure. I show up at the address, and there is nothing there. I circle around a few times, look on both sides of the street just to be sure… nothing.
I stop the car, my head spinning from all the circling I have been doing. I need to stay still and focus for a moment. I start to relax more.
“How are you.” I ask my son, who I notice has stopped crying.
“I am fine.” He says clearly.
“Can you open your eyes now?”
“Yes. And they don’t hurt”.
I finally exhale fully. The urgency of the situation releasing its grip on me.
“Great! I need a cup of coffee” I announce.
And we drive across the street to my favorite coffee shop.
Clear. Ground. Fill. I know this routine.
At the coffee shop, I am ordering food for the kids and my much needed cup o Joe, when the owner comes flying into the room with obvious concern on her face.
“Is there a gas leak somewhere?” She asks her employees in a panic.
I jump in…”oh sorry, that’s us.”
And I briefly tell her what happened. She gets down to look at my son and offers him a free cookie and a drink. This makes him smile.
Then she says “you know, there’s an urgent care facility literally right down the street. It’s brand new and really really good.” And she proceeds to give me directions to get there. This is verging on ridiculous. The old Abbot & Costello “who’s on first” skit comes racing into mind.
“Thanks,” I offer. “I think we are going to the thrift store next to get out of these clothes!” Everyone laughs.
At the thrift store, my son and I change out of our gas soaked clothing and into some new warm, dry clothes instead. We head to the counter with our old clothes in the cart and our thrifted finds on us, tags dangling everywhere. The lady at the counter asks “what’s that smell?” as we approach the cash register and so I re tell our story as I am pulling tags off clothing and handling them to her. She double plastic bags our old clothes, and by now the whole line behind us has heard what happened and is offering bits of advice on how to get gasoline out of clothes (just throw them all away! offers one elderly woman.) what to do when we get home, etc.
“Wow, thats a wild story” They all seem to say together. “Your son sure will always remember it!”
They smile and laugh with the wisdom of age. They all are grandmothers and I so appreciate their calm, reflective and light hearted presence. We share in the laughter together. The lady at the counter doesn’t charge me for half he clothes I take. We all leave cleaner, brighter and lighter.
Back to our car, we finally…finally head to the farm to spend our day together as originally planned. It turns out to be a beautiful, crisp autumn day and we pick kale, lettuce and broccoli from the fields. We find lots of amber chunks in the dirt around the sluice. I put them in my pockets. We hang out with the turkeys and compliment them on their fine plumage. We play, and run, and swing and enjoy the fresh air. We see the first glimpses of the nearly full moon hazy in the sky and HUGE.
No one stops us because we smell like gasoline.
I treat the kids to whatever they want. I let them get candy. And buy trinkets. And play their radio station on the car ride home.
It’s turned in to that kind of day.
Song for today: this made me smile https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-yL7VP4-kP4