on impulse

June 10, 2013

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There is an impulsive side to my nature that sometimes catches me off guard. It has also led to some, well, interesting experiences. Yesterday I took an impromptu trip. It had actually been semi-planned before, so not entirely impromptu: but I had nixed the idea once getting the news that another cousin was on her way to visit me and the cousin I was staying with. I told my brother that I could not come see him anymore if it meant leaving the same day my cousin arrived for a 2-day visit. But yesterday afternoon, once I discovered that there would not be another opportunity to see him, I realized I was no longer confident in the decision to stay put. Talking it over with both cousins, I realized that if this was it—if missing this opportunity would mean I’d go back to China without seeing my brother [and meeting the newest niece]—I would regret not taking the one chance I had. Even if it meant a very short, semi-impractical journey. So at the last minute we decided it was worth the effort. I checked the bus schedule, threw together a backpack, and headed out the door. Yes, it was a very quick visit. And yes, I felt rather impulsive about doing it. But I knew it was right.
The hours I had with them flew by and soon I realized I needed to leave quickly in order to get back before the wee hours of the morning. I looked into those 3 little faces and told each girl how happy it had made me to see them again, and how much I was going to miss them, and I headed off.
A traveler’s confession is in order here: I actually have a tendency to figure things out as I go. I will make a plan but, when it comes down to it, I often end up relying on others I encounter along the way, knowing that random questions, that I could not have anticipated, will always come up. And in this particular situation, I had been in such a hurry to catch a bus that I had not had time to map things out . . . figure-it-out-as-we-go it would just have to be.
It took longer than I expected to catch the first bus of the trip so I was already feeling a bit of pressure from the beginning, wanting to be respectful of the household of little ones I was heading home to. After a few stops, then, I decided to just ask the bus driver for help. I assumed this was probably not proper city bus decorum, but I was not really concerned about being proper at this point. He turned out to be a very kind and helpful person, not annoyed by me as I had feared he would be. He explained which stops I could take in order to make the transfer, even drawing a map in spurts of hands-free moments. Describing the options, he said that he would recommend one of the stops over others, since he had 2 daughters my age. Being used to correcting such comments, I informed him that his daughters were, in fact, likely much younger than I, but I took his advice. When I asked him to describe again how to find the stop, he began to do so then interrupted himself; his shift was ending at the same stop, so he could just walk me there to make it easier. At this point I was really grateful to be getting off that particular bus: it was populated with a large number of very inebriated partyers who were getting increasingly vocal with their unwanted attention. It was strange how much that scared me: ironic, in fact, that I was so frightened by actions relatively innocuous considering the types of conflict situations I am accustomed to . . . but perhaps I have a higher level of tolerance for “real” war than I do for raucous, self-medicated rowdiness? At any rate, I happily exited the bus and followed the driver. He walked me to the corner and pointed out the stop across the way. When I got there, however, and found no sign of the bus number I was looking for, I almost panicked. At this hour on a weekend, in this part of the city, only bars were open. And my window for wandering the streets had passed: I needed to get home. Scanning the surroundings, I noticed another stop 2 blocks down the way. With my eagle eyes [;-)] I read the bus number and began to run. There was no way it would still be there by the time I made it, but I ran all the same. I was waving my arms wildly around me and pleading, out loud, “Please, wait! Don’t go! WAIT!” Against reason, the bus was still there when I arrived. As I breathlessly walked up the steps, the driver smiled down at me. “I saw you, honey. And I was talking to you, telling you I was waiting . . .” I thanked her, and apologized, making some sort of comment about how flustered I get when I don’t know my way around in this country. “What, you’re not from this country?” she exclaimed. “Why, you don’t even have an accent!” At this I just smiled, thanked her again . . . said a prayer doing the same, and made my way to my seat.
This afternoon we played “rainbow” on the trampoline again. For most of the day we had a pretty, blessedly, low-key set of kid-attitudes. When things got iffy again, we moved inside for a change of scenery. After a series of complaints, he hit upon a request that was not only manageable: it was actually a needed item of business: he requested a bath. Specifically, it came in the form of an, “I want a bath. The bath is a happy place.” My sentiments precisely, I thought, as I agreed to the order.

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