Joy 41: A bug and a guy

The little guy and I were driving through town today, when something about the car next to ours caught my eye. There was some strange movement there, and because we were stopped at a red light, I could take a closer look. What I saw was a very large insect — a big praying mantis, I think — and it was ever so slowly, rather tentatively, crawling up the driver’s side window.

Of course I didn’t want to stare, because said driver was of the youngish male variety. Not scary but twenty-something and jaded-looking, a type who probably wouldn’t appreciate the ogling of some mom wearing a white “51 Ichiro” baseball cap.

I kept trying not to stare, all the while wondering whether the bug was inside the car or outside the car, whether it might be the guy’s pet and whether he was aware of this thing that was getting ever closer to his face.

Before the light turned green, my questions were answered.

Unease flickered across the cool guy’s face, as if his subconscious was alerting him: “Dude, something’s not quite right in the car.” Then his conscious kicked it into high gear, registering the insect, which it turned out was inside the car. The guy flinched away from the window, and his eyes flew open, taking in the insect. His face was suddenly animated and amused, and for whatever reason our eyes met. I laughed out loud and watched as he took stock of his situation, quickly pulling into a nearby gas station, apparently to sort things out.

It was such a great moment. Here this fellow and I had been driving along in our own disconnected worlds, separated by only eight feet and a couple of windows, and then this bug comes along and causes us, two strangers, to connect — the young man breaks out of his brooding to reveal a face that could have been that of a delighted toddler, I break out of my errand-running road-weariness to laugh — and we share a moment.

Another bug -- a katydid -- that visited our home earlier this summer


Joy No. 33: Old friends in a new place

When I was younger, I lived what I call an air fern lifestyle. I tried out different lives in different places, never putting down roots. The best part of that period was getting to know wonderful people everywhere I went. The worst part of that period was leaving behind wonderful people every time I left.

But an unexpected thing has happened since we actually put down roots. Two separate sets of people from past lives have settled down within an hour’s drive of us. Last night, the second set of these friends, Sarah & Al, who are both from the East Coast and whom I met in Japan 17 (what?!) years ago, came to dinner. When we first met, we were all single. Last night, they sat with my husband, son and me at our dining room table, accompanied by their three beautiful daughters.

They say you can’t step in the same stream twice. But sometimes life gives you the opportunity to enter downstream waters. And they can be just as sweet.

Squid drying in Hagi, Japan -- 2007

Joy No. 19: A meeting mix-up

The kitchen calendar said the hub and I were scheduled to drive down to the big city for a meeting this afternoon. This would have entailed our starting from two distant points and rendezvous-ing at a midpoint at two specific parking meters, where we would fumble for enough quarters to fill one of them up. Then he would jump into the passenger seat of my car, and I would fly us down the highway, hoping to dodge any traffic snarls that could stand in the way of an on-time arrival.

This morning it occurred to me that we hadn’t gotten our usual reminder call yesterday. Strange … So I called the person we were supposed to meet. Turned out we weren’t on his schedule at all!

Although I thought I should have been disappointed, I felt so happy. With the little guy at school and the big guy at work, I had time and space to focus on and finish a writing project. Bliss.

It seems I keep getting the same tutorial these days: Don’t cling too tightly to what you think should happen, because often what does happen is far better than the plan.

Random bonus joy: Mt. St. Helens seen in August from the June Lake trail