Right Turn

By George Alger

Sometimes, it just takes a right turn to find out what’s important.

Consider Lucy: A 33-year-old, married mother of two (eight and ten years old). She works part time at Quigleys, the local department store, selling men’s clothing while her children are at school. Her husband, Jeremy, is a manager at the metal fabricating plant.
Lucy considers that she has mostly taken right turns in her life. Although, sometimes, she wonders: Did she really marry the right man? Jeremy is a good guy, but he gets so absorbed in his own day-to-day livingness, that Lucy doesn’t think he pays her enough attention.

This particular morning, Lucy was driving to Quigleys. She was running a little late approaching the Main Street traffic intersection. The light was just turning red, and she made a wide, right turn on to Main—somewhat aggressively—while watching traffic on the left. Lucy made a right turn into a different kind of life.

CRAAASSHHH!

The turn precipitated a very surrealistic perspective. She felt odd and uncomfortable, sort of detached, and sort of dreamy. It was as if she were watching a movie that was being filmed from above. And sure enough, down below, there was a car wreck. But somehow that wreck didn’t seem as real as a movie. At least in a movie, she knew she was watching something that was make believe. But here, well, she didn’t know what to make of it.

Lucy was drearily cognizant of the stopped traffic. People were gathering around the crashed cars. She had an odd notion that she was going to be late for work, but didn’t want to think about it right now.

Steam was hissing from under the collapsed and exploded hoods. Fluids were leaking on the ground, wending their way through a sparkling sea of shattered glass amassed helter-skelter within the intersection. This was horrible! How could anyone survive such a collision?

She caught a fleeting glimpse of each of the drivers in the ruined cars but…well…she was too tired and didn’t want to think about it.

She drowsily resolved to consider something…pleasant: Her wedding and also the kids’ births came to mind.

Speaking of the kids, all of a sudden she could see them at school as if it were right now, albeit through a bit of a fog. Her 8-year-old daughter was in her art class drawing a picture of a boat on the sea with a huge sun. How her daughter loved the sun. And Lucy’s 10-year-old boy was playing soccer in his gym class. It’s kind of funny how she could watch them, just as if they were each doing those things right now, like she was watching them from above. It was kind of dreamy, but it had some realistic qualities just as well.

One’s perceptions can be funny. Whose to say what is real and what isn’t, anyway?

Oh darn! There’s that annoying wreck again. The police and paramedics were arriving and there were a lot of upset drivers stuck in traffic.

Lucy was tired of all this nonsense, although it did occur to her that Jeremy was going to be mad that the car was all crunched up. He would probably complain about the insurance rates going higher, and then say, “Well Lucy, I’m glad you’re OK! I wish you would drive more carefully. What’s for dinner?”

He was kind of predictable in that way. No matter what was going on in life, work, or with the family, nothing could interrupt dinner. And then, with no more than a thought about her husband, she could see him doing some paperwork in his office.

This is a funny dream. It seems she could be anywhere instantly.

Jeremy appeared a bit distracted. He looked up, kind of quizzically in her direction. Lucy looked sheepishly right back at her husband, “Hi Jeremy. I hurt the car.”

He didn’t acknowledge her presence.

This was the strangest dream she ever had.

Jeremy picked up the phone and called Quigleys. Geez, he never calls the store. He sounded impatient, “Let me speak with Lucy.”

Lucy started to feel sad. Like something was wrong. Like she didn’t have any control anymore. Like she lost something, but couldn’t figure out what was missing. But she didn’t want to deal with any problems right now.

Instead, the image of her wedding drifted into view. It was just like she was there. She and Jeremy were happy. Their friends and relatives were having fun. It seemed like the entire world was in complete bliss. She was so pleased with the cake and the flowers. They were even more beautiful than she had anticipated prior to the wedding. And even looking at them now, they seemed just as gorgeous as ever before. She could smell the roses. She could taste the cake. Oh! And she could hear the clinking of the glasses. She could even feel a kiss. Wow! It was like being there and re-living it.

Then Lucy was at another wedding. It was a different time altogether. At first she didn’t recognize the people, but then it occurred to her that they were once her friends and family, too. How could that be? It seemed this wedding was over 100 years ago. Then she saw another wedding and another wedding and another wedding. They were all earlier and earlier in time. And in each experience she recognized that she knew these people and that it was herself that was getting married. How could that be?

Lucy wandered back and forth through time. Amazed, bewildered, excited, happy and sad. It was like being at a reunion and getting re-familiarized with people, events and circumstances that had escaped notice for far too long. She became heady with the rush of whole reservoirs of previously untapped experience. This was too much. This was too big a dream. And she was too tired.

With no more than a decision, instantly, Lucy was at home. Jeremy and the kids were in the living room. What are they doing home at this time? The kids were crying. Something was wrong but she didn’t know what and no one would talk to her!

Lucy was exasperated, “Children, go back to school! Jeremy, go back to work! Please! Go back to being normal!”

But no one listened to her.

“Stop this dream! What’s going on!?”

But nothing happened.

Lucy cried with her kids for hours. But she didn’t know why. It was just a stupid dream. And she needed to wake up. It was time to start dinner. But she didn’t know how.

Life can be so cruel.

She began to consider that right turn. She was dying to know what happened, but at the same time, she was afraid.

She looked at her crying children.

In an instant, she could see them being born. In another instant she could see them taking their first steps and even see them going to school on their first days. She could see them in the future getting married, having children and raising their own families, laughing and growing old. She could even observe her son, as an older man, admiring a photo of his mother on the wall.

Time and space seemed to be completely irrelevant. Lucy could be anywhere at any time.

A slight sense of peace slowly began to ease her spiritual trauma and quasi-consciousness. New awareness seemed available anywhere she placed her attention. Her complete notion of life was transforming faster than she could comprehend. The whole evolution of birth, living and death took on new meaning. The intertwined complexities of life’s problems, arguments, struggles and surviving seemed so strangely inconsequential.

Lucy wanted so much to do more for her kids. She wanted to be a better wife to Jeremy. For some reason she had this renewed recognition that Jeremy was the best husband she could have and that she made a right turn getting married to him. She realized newly, how much she loved them all.

Lucy felt an enlivened compassion and understanding of love, of life. It somehow reminded her of being very young again. She looked at her children and with no more than a gentle willingness, she permeated them both with the well-spring of endearing affinity that she beheld. As if on cue, each of her kids relaxed, just a little, and sighed.

Lucy attempted a sort of mental hug of Jeremy. He stopped his brooding, and eased his shoulders. He looked at the children and said, “Come on kids, let’s get something to eat.”

Somehow Lucy knew she would see them again. Somewhere. Sometime in the future.

And over generations, they may exchange roles. This life each played their chosen parts as mom, dad, wife, husband, son, daughter, brother, and sister. Next time the relationships could be quite different. Lucy was tired. There was sadness. But she was glad to get some sleep.

© Copyright George Alger. All Rights Reserved.