Exit 43. A moment of childlike innocence.

I had a brutal week.  I had two hours of meetings after a regular-length day of work on Wednesday to prepare for the upcoming standardized testing season.  I also gave a test that day, which would take four or five hours to grade, so I had virtually no free time from Wednesday morning through Friday afternoon.  I also had a lot I was dealing with emotionally that I still haven’t completely processed, including a recent incident that left a student from the school where I work in the hospital (I do not know this student, and the incident did not occur on campus) and the sudden passing of an acquaintance whom I hadn’t seen in several months.

So because of all this, I’m not really prepared to write about anything this week, and when I do that, I look through my old Livejournal from years ago and old Facebook notes I wrote.  The last time I had to do this, I had something in mind I wanted to share, but after spending an hour looking through all my Livejournal posts from 2006 and 2007, I couldn’t find it.  I just found it now; apparently I was looking a little too far back.  I wrote this in April of 2008.

The wind was at my back. I still had over six miles to go before I got home, but the pedaling would be a lot easier this time going with the wind. I was pedaling fast, probably around 17 miles per hour except that I couldn’t be sure. My speedometer has been broken for some time. To my dismay, the green light ahead of me turned yellow, requiring me to slow down and waste all that momentum I had built up. There was no way I’d get across the intersection before the light turned red.

As I stopped at the intersection, I looked around. To my right, two girls, one on a bike and one on a scooter, were getting ready to cross. They could have been sisters, but I couldn’t be sure. One of them started to move, but the older one held her back, since it was only the left turn light that had turned green and it was not their turn to cross yet. As I turned to look forward, I heard a voice over my right shoulder call out, “Hi.” I turned to the right and saw one of the two girls waiting to cross waving at me. She looked like she was probably no older than ten or eleven.

“Hi,” I replied. “How are you?”

“Good,” she said. “How are you?”

“Good. It’s a beautiful day out today.”

“Yeah,” she agreed as her light finally changed. “It’s been a good day so far.” She and the other girl began crossing the street.

“See you later,” I said.

“Bye,” she replied. Both of them smiled. They rode off, and I continued waiting for my light to change. And for that one brief moment, all of a sudden it didn’t matter what color our skin was, it didn’t matter that I was in a neighborhood very different from my own, it didn’t matter who would win the presidential election later this year or what the economy was like or that many would view a man my age saying hi to young girls with apprehension and suspicion. All I saw was a moment of childlike innocence and exchanging friendly words with my fellow human being.