I drove rather fast down the Pike
It’s not a pace that I like
But fixing the mirror
Made it two hours dearer
Still a six hour hike.
After a night on Burdette’s couch in Pittsburgh, we chatted while she got ready for the job she calls a dead-end. She made herself a peanut butter and jelly sandwich.
Her mother, Nancy, bathed us together when we were toddlers, and made my mother laugh when they lived close together. Her father, Pierce, had a great sense of humor and a wonderful intellect. When I grew up I re-established contact between the families. I had great fun with the lot of them.
I didn’t see the dysfunction, the alcoholism and bipolarity.
After I finished college I lost contact with them, and the tragic deaths struck one after another without my knowledge.
My missing left mirror and the narrow, crowded alley complicated backing out; Burdette had to direct me.
I drove winding streets in neighborhoods screaming for paint and re-roofing, narrow blue-collar houses rubbing shoulders against a backdrop of spectacular geology.
The brunt of traffic bypasses streets with nicer homes. Burdette grew up in a fine old house; it brought me comfort and shelter in my college years when I hitchhiked from Connecticut to Colorado.
At the dealership I struck up a conversation with the young woman at the service counter when she observed how happy I seemed. I gave her my card and told her to check my blog.
Two hours later, my mirror replaced, I checked out. In the waiting area, in front of an audience, the young woman showed me a rash she’d had for a while, getting worse despite use high-powered meds.
Raised, flaking borders on flat, rounded lesions about the side of a nickel: skin fungus (ringworm) most likely, after that nummular eczema, other diagnoses possible.
It doesn’t take 27 years of formal education to figure out that if something doesn’t work you need to try something else.
I would have told her to get TSH and Vitamin D levels checked, try over the counter Cortaid and/or Eucerin, or even consider using an OTC antifungal like Lotrimin, but that would have constituted practicing medicine without a license in Pennsylvania.
Still I enjoyed the time I spent talking to her.
When I plugged the address for my dinner date into my GPS, I realized I miscalculated my time frame. I called my brother. What time did we expect to meet for our sister’s birthday? If I hurried, if there were no traffic, I’d barely make it in time.
So for the first time in months I rushed.
Digestive problems forced a stop after five hours, and I reexamined my motivation to be punctual. I searched for loperamide and decided that I just wouldn’t arrive in time. I called my brother and apologized.
Slowing down had relieved my gut problems and food intolerances, rushing brought them back.
As I inched through the glacial Holland Tunnel congestion, glad that I’d had the sense to quit hurrying an hour before, I wished I’d done so hours before that.
I arrived a half-hour after my brother and sister and their mates, but dinner continued for two hours, one dish at a time, talking between courses. All of us have passion for our work and love our jobs. I gave my thoughts on Obamacare.
We reviewed the meal over sorbet and agreed that the star had been a seared black rock fish.
As we left the upscale Japanese restaurant I thought about my morning.
Contrast is the essence of meaning.