I’m not really a passenger kind of person.
So, I found myself stretched to capacity when the Bohemian stopped me in my mid-driver’s side entry to my vehicle, with what he thought was a simple question: “Can I drive?”
It was a logical suggestion. We were en route to the airport, where Jeb and I would depart on a trip to California. We had established that the Bohemian would drive my car to pick up Jeb and I upon our return. With us all there together, it made sense for him to suggest he get a trial run behind the wheel.
Little did he know that I’d been silently going through some sort of inner demolition, the proverbial wrecking ball had been busting boundaries all day.
I had entrusted this man to the whereabouts of my keys – home and vehicle. I had granted him the full access pass. Yes, I wanted his airport escort. But this entailed me letting him drive my car. No one drives my car.
It may sound ridiculous to some (maybe even to the Bohemian, though he made not a peep as I walked him through the labyrinth of how he was to actually get the keys to my car in order to drive it. I wanted them stashed inside my house, not kept in his possession while I was away.).
The man was patient and even finished the last few words of my sentence – in an agreeing tone, mind you, of affirming teamwork, not annoyance – when I reminded him about not parking the car too close to the house because the cats (in unison) “jump on the hood.” And, yes, he knew, it’s best to always lock the car with the key from the outside so you don’t accidentally lock your keys in the car. Yep, he was nodding. Smiling. Uh-huh.
Me and my statements of the obvious. So, was it obvious that I gulped and stammered when he asked if he could drive us to the airport? Not only would he be driving my car, but I would become a passenger.
One more swing of the wrecking ball (though let’s not even say the word “wreck” in this circumstance) and there I was buckling up in the passenger seat with squirming knees at the glovebox. I must have been obvious. Jeb felt my discomfort and chimed in from the back seat “I don’t think this is such a good idea.” He’d never seen anyone else drive my car, either.
Uncomfortable, maybe, but I was surrendered. Bring on the rubble.
I tell Jeb the Bohemian is a professional driver (this is true). That he used to drive a semi with big loads through the city of Chicago. And as we ease out on to the road the Bohemian cheerily quips, “Safety first.”
As I said, I’m not a passenger kind of person. So I was left to wonder as he steadily steered us through the night, how it came to be that there was a man escorting me to the airport. That he was driving my car and I was letting him. That I had calmed enough to crack a few jokes and make him laugh, leaving Jeb to exclaim from the backseat “Don’t distract him, Mom!”
But by mid-trip the Bohemian was so smooth that we’d all calmed down. Jeb even admitted, “Hey, he’s pretty good.” And I think the same when I ask him what he wants from California, and without a moment’s thought, just says, “you and Jeb.”
And so it went. A series of surprising views in the aftermath of the wrecking ball.
Instead of dropping us, curbside, in the unloading zone by the ticket counter, he suggests parking and walking us to check in. He wheels the suitcase all the way, ushering it through every attendant we encounter until it finally gets put on the conveyor belt toward our plane.
And once we get to the security check point, our final hugs aren’t the end of his presence. He lingers by the wall to watch us move through the maze of ID check, shoe removal and the emptying of quart-sized ziplocs into baskets.
He stays until the final glance. Our last exchange before the security personnel crowds out the Bohemian from my view. I smile and give a small wave. His left hand is near his heart, or maybe it’s just my imagination.
But I don’t think I’m dreaming. He walked with us as far as possible. And he stayed until he couldn’t see us anymore.