The parade was fun, we waited around for a long time, but once we got to marching, we were resplendent.
Afterwards, we walked over to the festival for some freebies and entertainment, and then we grabbed Subway and gathered ourselves to head back to the car.
What was that cross street? Oh yeah, it was Commercial Ave. Right? Or was it Industrial… it was something businessy sounding, I had made a mental note of that fact. Imperial isn’t businessy sounding, is it? Shit.
We walked the area, I kept the kids chatting although they were tired and getting impatient. I scanned the blocks for a familiar landmark; something I’d remember having walked past in our mad dash that morning. All of the parade foot traffic had cleared out; gone were the police on every corner and the festive, welcoming buzz of downtown. The only action on these streets was that of the misfortunate or misguided.
The kids figured out that we were lost. They were annoyed. I was getting nervous. They noticed. I couldn’t believe that I did not have my fucking phone.
The blocks were long and peppered with sleeping figures under blankets, boisterous and staggering groups, and industrious cart-weilding entrepreneurs. At each intersection, I tried to scan my addled sense of direction to try and gauge which way we should try next. There were commercial properties on each block, so we couldn’t try shortcuts or pass throughs. It was hot.
I felt so conspicuous. So white.
When our trek led us toward a small group gathered on a sidewalk, I wanted to cross to the other side of the street. But I also wanted to show my children that just because people are destitute, we should not assume that they are bad. We passed the group, and an outburst of laughter made me jump. Shit.
My girl was the one who finally recognized a stoop from quite some distance, she remembered that she had used those steps to sit and tie her shoe. It seemed like the wrong direction, but she was adamant enough to convince us to head that way. We cheered when we saw our car, and I was flooded with relief to lock us safely inside. The sitting was nice, too. And the a/c.
The whole ordeal probably lasted 20 minutes, but it has stayed with me.
I’ve always bought in to the Gavin de Becker philosophy of trusting your instincts as a parent. From Amazon: “As (de Becker) emphatically states in Protecting the Gift, much of this knowledge is already hard-wired in the form of intuition: ‘This natural ability is deep, brilliant, powerful. Nature's greatest accomplishment, the human brain, is stunningly efficient when its host is at risk, but when one's child is at risk, it moves to a whole new level.’ The trick, he stresses, is trusting and acting on intuition.”
Did I trust and act on my intuition on that hot January morning? What should I have done differently? Was that urge I had to cross the street my intuition warning me of danger, or merely striking embarrassment at the dumbass maneuvers I had made to get us into this predicament? Was it even a predicament? We lost our car, on a Saturday morning, in the commercial district of downtown
What would it say to the dude we were marching for on that day?