Humid day when I have to drive in to work, I notice that people in the 25 mph section of Court Street actually are driving...25 mph. I'm in a lazy mood myself, but not THAT leisurely, so, surprised, I brake and pay attention. In the right lane, a rusty old New Yorker, a youngish white driver, long hair and a hat, with a big floppy yellow dog in the back seat. In the left lane, another rusty heap, an old Galaxy with three black teens, windows wide open, the kids' liberated elbows sticking out.
Me, sleepy, overweight, middle-aged woman in my 11-year-old Accord, in no hurry to get to the Castle of Learning. The other drivers wouldn't know, of course, but I got this car in my long-ago divorce and it's about to hit 90,000 miles. It's comfy and familiar. I'm in no rush to replace it -- it runs fine and it's been paid off for years. Just spent $45 to fill it up -- $4.07/gal. So, I'm in my Michigan Radio cap and I'm slouching behind sunglasses just to hide even though it's thickly overcast. Trying to get ahead of a family history toward macular degeneration. Righteous because I ate steelcut oatmeal with almonds and raspberries for breakfast, trying to get ahead of a family history of colon cancer. Reflecting gloomily on mortality because my dear friend's mother Virginia is dying in a hospice at this very moment: in these last days blind, practically wordless and still remarkably durable, she lives on and on, each hour a painstaking grain of sand draining inexorably out, my friend exhausted at her bedside, while just outside politics and spring mindlessly continue.
So I don't care if we all go slow. I'm willing to take my time. As we angle from lane to lane, puttering along, it hits me the other two probably are driving slowly to save gas. Nobody ever goes the speed limit on Court Street; people usually dart from lane to lane, shooting ahead if anybody dares to dawdle, honking, gesturing, giving the stink eye. Not today. I think my mates on Court are maximizing every drop. More out of sociability than any need to speed, I slowly move into the "fast" lane behind the teens. I pull up next to the guy in the rusty New Yorker. I'm ready to give him a smile but he stares obliviously ahead. The dog, though, grins happily and gives out a little woof.
And I savor this sappy moment of fondness for everybody in the human race, beleaguered and constantly adjusting. But most of all, I'm fond of this communitarian crowd who might be slowing down. I like it like this.