Thursday, June 4, 2015

NEW ESSAY from Upcoming Release: "Beauty on the Interstate"

I have been busy enjoying the last moments of the release of The Blackberry & Other Tales That Creep while preparing the text for August's collection, entitled Beauty On the Interstate.  I am really enjoying the revision process of the 8-10 essays and stories that will be part of this release.

The following story is a little preview from the planned essays for Beauty... .  ENJOY!

Public Domain photo by Alex Grichenko
Hurry Up and Wait
By Judith Cullen
© 2015

I’ll never forget that morning.  It was a typically overcast, drizzly Pacific Northwest weekday anonymously tucked somewhere between November and March.  It was the kind of morning that would typically blend into the sameness of other winter, weekday morning commutes. The sky hung in a misty, moist silver blur as I pulled out onto the main drag by my house, embarking once more on the 30 mile trek to a job in the state capitol.

When I first started driving this particular commute nearly two years ago, I remembered every turn, every leaf and branch, every bridge and stream of the very scenic journey.  At the time my amazement was such that I said a loud to myself, “I wonder if I will ever get tired of this lovely drive?” The drive was, and is, filled with loveliness to fill any scenic sensibility: vibrant mixes of green, leafy trees; the different glimpses of sky and mountains; the far off ripple and sparkle of Puget Sound waters.  The answer turned out to be “yes, sort of.”  I’ve long since stopped noticing every scenic bit and bob along the way.  I still enjoy the views and the changes of season, but not as attentively as I once did.  It was not going to be scenery, this particular morning, which made this trip stand out.

As I pulled up to the first light, signaling to move into the left turn lane that would lead me down another main thoroughfare to the interstate, a gleam of silver flashed in front of me as a late model Accord cut across my path to take the front position in left hand turn lane.

I flinched, but only a little.  My morning “cuppa” had not yet taken hold. With an hour or so to go until my target heart rate for the day was reached, I was still fairly serene.  I checked my speed.  I hadn’t been dawdling. “Well, maybe they are running late and are just in a hurry” I thought, trying to be gracious.

The light turned green and the Accord sped around the corner and accelerated for unknown points south.  I followed at a much more conservative pace and let my car assume a leisurely speed just one mph above the limit.  I know these lights pretty well.

Sure enough, when I got to the next light, there was the Accord.  If this were a 1950s greaser flick, it would have been aggressively gunning its engine, impatient to be speeding off.  We don’t gun our engines like that in the post-fuel-injection era. Where was the crucial destination for this car and driver that it should be so bristling with NASCAR energy this early on weekday?

This light turned green and the Accord was off in a completely imaginary puff of smoke, speeding down the street.  I ambled after at the speed limit, secure in the knowledge that what seemed like a pattern, most likely would become pattern. Sure enough, I was not disappointed. There was the Accord waiting at the next light, fairly vibrating with impatience while the rest of the world continued at its blithe, highly regulated pace.

Green light: zooooom, the Accord was off again and waiting for me, metaphorically tapping its tires, as I rolled up to the subsequent light. We were getting closer to the freeway, and already I could envision the Accord’s rear bumper cheekily receding into the distance, weaving around lesser beings that had the ill-fortune to get in its way. One more tag-and-go at a stop light, and much to my surprise the Accord turned left!  Freeway entry was not in its cards, apparently.  It had left us plodding mortals on throughway and turned into the feeder lanes of one of those mega-McDonalds.  You know the kind: the ones with the warren of drive-thru lines all feeding inexorably to a cash register and the friendly, cheerfully thrust white bag filled with predictable, if not completely healthful, foodstuffs.

As I passed the McDonalds, I noted that both the circuitous drive-thru lines were backed up four and five cars deep before the order panels.  There was the silver Accord, pulling up just in time to cool its heels and wait. No wonder it was rushing!  Another critical moment lost and they would have run out of Egg MacMuffins! What if there had been no hot, fresh coffee left?! The horror! The inhumanity!

Some mornings you just know that Karma is hard at work, and that she never forgets!


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