Driving can replenish my energy or deplete it, depending on the circumstances of the trip and the road. On this day, the goddess of the adventure smiled upon me. Navigating Prius 1 through the streets of Houston had the feel of roller-blading or mountain biking; proprioceptive delight flooded my nervous system. I felt up to the challenge of this day. The feeling had eluded me all morning, but I had it now, driving, and the pleasure of having captured it made me smile.
I arrived in the parking lot with ten minutes to spare. How that happened seemed like a contradiction to the laws of physics. I pushed the question aside, knowing an explanation required spatial reasoning or mathematics for which I hadn’t enough energy. Instead I laid the seat back, employed my pillow and weighted blanket, pulled my hat over my eyes and listened. The day was warm and I let the battery which had charged on the drive across town, quietly run the AC. Only in the most extreme personal distress would I fill a parking lot with toxic car exhaust.
I heard V’s car pull into the lot.
The Center was deserted, as I surmised it would be early on a Friday afternoon. That’s why I picked this location for the first of our monthly Friday afternoon culture adventures.
Conversation is a brain-exhausting activity. A lovely, uncluttered environment makes it easier. V, like most people, had plenty to talk about. I listened – that, I excel at. Periodically, she meandered into fascinating territory which demanded I ask questions or make comments. But when I went beyond a sentence, I slipped into self-consciousness and then confusion and had to let my complicated thoughts end in a shrug of helplessness.
We moved from display to display inspecting “The Gold Standard.” We were half-way through the big room when I got a text from Watson. “I’m here. Cal took the title and my key across the hall to the appraiser. The clock’s ticking, dude!”
I explained the situation to V, apologized that I would have to field texts and calls for a while.
In the deserted gift shop, car negotiations escalated. While V tried on jewelry and scarves Watson and I texted back and forth, me holding out for a decent trade-in price.
“Appraiser offered $2,500.”
“That’s not enough. Head home, he’ll call us with a better price. If not, we’ll take it to CarMax.”
“If he can get it up to $3,000, I’m running with it,” he wrote.
The awful urgency I had felt earlier flooded my system. The Kelly Blue Book quoted $4,000. I felt like I should fight for every penny.
Reason found her way above it. The truck needed at least $4,000 worth of work to be fit to drive another year. The recent failure of the AC had warmed us to that fact.
“I should come down there and help you,” I wrote. Guilt joined urgency; my mate should not be in the lion’s den fighting without me.
“No, he’ll offer me $3K and the hard part will be over.”
How much pain is the fight worth? Reason asked.
After V bought a hand-crafted purse and we wore out our welcome in the artist-in-residence spaces, we drove Prius 1 to a neighborhood deli to pick up sandwiches for our picnic.
While we waited in line for our turn to order, I scoped the quiet space. Could I sit at one of the little café tables and eat? I could, but I would pay the price later. I rated the deli as “safe to pass through but don’t dally.”
Leaving the deli parking lot an uncomfortable feeling at the base of my neck reminded me I was an hour late for my 2pm dose of caffeine and ibuprophen. While I fished the pills out of my purse my phone rang.