My best friend from high school came in from Israel for a family visit recently, and my only job was to find a way to get to where she was staying in order to catch up. It seems like it should be easy to get from one part of Long Island to another, to see an old friend I rarely get to see, but I’m me, so…
I downloaded WAZE on my phone, per Mom’s instructions, and also printed out a hard copy of the directions from Google Maps to study ahead of time. I’d managed a trip out to the Far Rockaway area a couple of years ago without WAZE, for a visit with the same friend, but it’s a route I rarely drive and I wanted to be prepared.
And then I had a flare, or a worsening of my symptoms, or whatever I’m supposed to call it. My symptoms have been bad for a while now (exhaustion, pain, brain fog, Psoriasis and Lichen Planus outbreaks, walking trouble, breathing trouble, headaches, etc.), but on the Thursday before the visit things got even worse, to the point where Mom had to drive me to and from work to avoid a possible disaster on the road.
I still thought the flare would pass by the day of the visit, though, and I avoided anything stressful or difficult in the days leading up to it, in hopes of recovering in time. But when I got up that Sunday morning, I knew I couldn’t do the drive; I could barely figure out how to open WAZE on my phone and make the directions appear. So Mom volunteered to drive me.
It’s embarrassing to be an adult who needs her Mom to drive her to a get together, or to what my students would call “a play date,” but it was either be embarrassed or miss the visit altogether.
Mom and I had both programmed our phones for the route, out of an abundance of caution and anxiety, so even after we’d decided to just use my phone, held aloft in the passenger seat so I could repeat the directions as many times as necessary to avoid missing our exits, Mom’s phone kept talking, in an echo. I finally figured out how to shut down her phone completely in order to make the echoing stop (later I realized that I could just have pressed stop on the WAZE screen, but, as I said, brain fog).
We still had a hard time following the directions, of course, missing a few turns here and there, and then WAZE told us about a hazard up ahead, too late for us to turn around and change the route, and we found ourselves driving through a lake in the middle of the road. The car swam for twenty feet or so before getting to dry road on the other side, but it survived again.
In my job as holder of the phone, I also discovered that WAZE likes to put little smiley faced icons all over the screen, which look suspiciously like the hidden pictures in one of my phone apps that I’m trained to tap with my finger until they are all removed and I win lots of points. I was just barely able to stop myself from pressing all the icons, so I have no idea what would have happened to the directions if I’d given in. We’d probably have ended up in Brooklyn.
But we managed to get to our destination on time and safely, and it was a joy to see my friend again. Mom dropped us off at a coffee place to chat and then spent the next two hours on her own, taking pictures of big rocks and collecting shells at the beach, and then we dropped my friend off back at her sister’s house, with lots of hugs, and started up the WAZE again, a little more hopeful that the drive home would be uneventful. And despite some interesting “short cuts,” leading us behind factories and through one way roads that seemed more like driveways (probably to avoid the lake in the road), we made it safely home to the dogs, just in time for their afternoon walk.
Ellie was thrilled to see us and zoomed around the yard in circles and figure eights, with breaks to come back and give us hugs and kisses, and Cricket spent her time sniffing scientifically at small patches of grass, searching for messages from her friend Kevin, the mini Golden Doodle, and looking longingly at the steps in front of his building, to no avail.
And then we were back inside, home, with WAZE silenced and no more left turns to make across traffic, and I was relieved. The fact is, I was incredibly lucky to have Mom there to drive me, and WAZE to help us get there safely, and a good friend to meet with and catch up on all of the life events that can’t be shared in a text. Life has so many moving parts, with so many hazards along the way, but every once in a while the puzzle pieces actually come together. And it’s wonderful!
If you haven’t had a chance yet, please check out my Young Adult novel, Yeshiva Girl, on Amazon. And if you feel called to write a review of the book, on Amazon, or anywhere else, I’d be honored.
Yeshiva Girl is about a Jewish teenager on Long Island, named Isabel, though her father calls her Jezebel. Her father has been accused of inappropriate sexual behavior with one of his students, which he denies, but Izzy implicitly believes it’s true. As a result of his problems, her father sends her to a co-ed Orthodox yeshiva for tenth grade, out of the blue, and Izzy and her mother can’t figure out how to prevent it. At Yeshiva, though, Izzy finds that religious people are much more complicated than she had expected. Some, like her father, may use religion as a place to hide, but others search for and find comfort, and community, and even enlightenment. The question is, what will Izzy find?