Sunday, September 18, 2011

Lady Cab Non-Driver, Volume 1

I've been traveling a lot for work these past couple years, so I often find myself being driven…to hotels and conferences, from airports and train stations, in new towns and cities… a hay-haired Cinderella, heart in rags, whose pumpkin chariot turns into a shiny yellow taxi.

And somehow each ride writes itself into a poem, roly prose of stops, signs, starts.

Just last month, on my way to the pet blogger conference, I hadn't even shut the door yet when my driver asked, "Are you going to DC?" No point in asking, "How did you know?," because, hey, that's just the way it seems to go. As we made our way to Penn Station, every block or so he'd spout out a line of verse… It takes man so many steps to hang something from the ceiling, while nature so easily suspends the stars in the heavens. We spoke of earthquakes and suns and where they start, and as I was leaving he said, "I know I've met you before."

"I believe it," I said.

And back in July, I was picked up at DC's Union Station (oooh, I love that place! It's like fairies live there or something) by D. (I know some people hate that first initial thing, but I didn't think to ask him if I could tell his story, so it's not fair to use his real name), who had been driving a cab for 22 years. He told me that he is one of 12 chosen people visited by Saint Anthony 50 years ago, all of them born on the same day--May 18, 1956. He got really sick as a kid and was near death in a hospital, but Saint Anthony teleported on in, or whatever Star Trek-y thing that saints do, and told him it wasn't his time to go yet. I also remember D. telling me he was gonna be going on a pilgrimage in September to..I can't remember where…Portugal? touch a holy rock, and he was nervous about it. Dude, if you're there now, everyone reading this blog is pulling for you!

And there's Georgia, who dropped me off at a dance class in Asheville, NC. In front of the building I met a little girl holding a 3-day-old baby chick. "We have 8 more," she said. When Georgia came back to get me, she had a new name for me. "Pom-Pom…is it okay if I call you Pom-Pom?" Everyone loves pom-poms, right? How could she have known that one of my favorite eBay searches--try it sometime, but expect to get a lot of vintage Barbie outfits on your list--is "1960s mod pom poms"? I still have Georgia's voicemail message confirming a ride to the airport for Pom-Pom.

It's no accident, I think, that inspiration should roll up with the meter running, 'cause the delicious irony is I don't drive. (If you saw me take my road test, waving during my 3-point turn at this lame guy I had a crush on, you'd be glad of it, too. Though I figure if I can be a radio DJ, I have adequate, um, motor skills. )

And while I don't wanna stop the dream by asking what all of this means, for me it's not just fodder for a good story. I'm not really sure what it is, but it feels like magic, and it feels like verses unfolding, like life is art. And behind the wheel, angels sent to make me feel at home along the way a long way from home. Like Nietzsche said, We want to be poets of our life — first of all in the smallest most everyday matters.

Though guiding someone to where they need to go is no small matter.

P.S. I have 3 more taxi stories, but I'm not sure you guys can take any more--this one's high on the ersatz-new age gaggability scale. Stay tuned for Volume Two. : )

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