Usually I govern my driving with all sorts of rules to keep anxiety at bay. Don’t drive at night. Avoid left turns if at all possible. Parallel parking? No way. There is one traffic situation in which caution escapes me: a railroad crossing with no threat of a train passing anytime soon. Maybe it was all the Starsky and Hutch I watched in the 70’s, but I do like to make my car take flight on the tracks from time to time. When I get the oil changed on my car, the tires usually need rebalanced, too.
There are so many opportunities for flight in my city since it is littered with all kinds of railroad tracks. Once I was taking a coworker home and punctuated a speech on how terrified I am at driving in ice and snow by flying over the tracks. It was two months before the threat of snow that year, so I had plenty of bravery left in me. I did not premeditate this flight or its timing. My moments of absurdity can never be contrived.
My daring in these moments is a tribute of sorts to the role the Baltimore and Ohio Railroad played in my genesis. Both of my grandfathers and one of my great grandfathers worked for the B&O. My maternal great grandfather was a close friend and coworker to my paternal grandfather. My mom needed a ride home from work, so Great Grandpa called my future Grandpa and asked him if he knew anyone who could give Mom a ride on short notice. Dad was chosen to pick up Mom. They were married six months later.
I wonder if he flew over the railroad tracks in his GTO on the way to pick up Mom.
I’ve used at least a dozen different nicknames for my daughter. Most of them I use just between her and me, my way of writing some footnotes on her entry in the Book of Life. Once I accidentally used one such name in front of a friend, who asked me, “why do you call her Perfect Cheeks?”
I stated the obvious, “Because she has perfect cheeks.”
Her chi is perfect as well, so she is also my Perfect Chi.
She is perfect for me because she told me at age four that my shampoo smelled like a poison pen.
She is perfect when she pretends to be a Japanese man on Twitter, convincingly.
She was perfect on the bus trip to Ohio Caverns when her classmates were messaging on Nintendo DS and never guessed she was the one trolling them as Mr. Saturn.
She was perfect when she told me that David Bowie and some cats have heterochromia, not dichromatism.
She was perfect when she remembered during a power outage that Chris Griffin’s artist name on Family Guy was Cristobal.
This evening as I was flying over country railroad tracks in my CR-V and listening to “Stonehenge” by Spinal Tap, I felt that I had slipped into one of those odd peak moments of life. Years from now, I will look back at this time and feel it was one of many encounters with effortless joy. I will know how strange it was that I thought I was already old. I have felt old, but old in a good way, since birth.
I’m also pleased that my hibiscus has rebloomed. That is enough for now.