Yesterday was Mother’s Day and what I did was take myself surfing at a spot I hadn’t surfed before, a place remote enough that I wouldn’t have cell service, which is what I warned the kids the night before. Why are you telling us this? Because in case you text me for Mother’s Day and I don’t answer. Oh, yes, right, of course.
But the day before Mother’s Day I took a Lyft to a tiny music fest at UCSB.
I like to ask all my passengers three questions, the driver said. Just if you want. You can say no. Just a thing I like to do.
(I should ask him if I can record this, I thought, but I hesitated to make yet another interaction with a human being fodder for social media and in the hesitation, as is always the case with hesitation, I lost the moment.)
First question: What brings you happiness? My brain ticked down the list. Kids, of course, all mothers have to say that and it is often true. The ocean, I answered.
Second question: How do you define love? I have two answers for this one, I told the driver. Sure, sure, he said. I have to start with infatuation, I said. Because people often confuse infatuation with love, but what infatuation is, is when another person sees us, reflects back to us, ourselves as we long to be seen. And love is when people see each other for real and stay committed anyway.
How did you come up with such an eloquent description? the driver asked. (William, his name was William.) I don’t know about eloquent, I shrugged, mostly I’ve just known a lot of people and seen a lot of relationships come and go.
Third question: This one is kind of corny, he admitted, but if you could be any animal, for a day or a life or whatever, which would you be? For a day, I said, I think I would like to be a Velella Velella, a by-the-wind sailor going where the wind takes me and snagging food along the way as I go. For a life? I paused for a moment. It’s cliché, I said. A dolphin? he guessed. I think so, I said. Or maybe a fat sea lion (nevermind that they are starving in droves) lazing around in the sun except for worrying about sharks and killer whales. Hey, maybe a shark, I said, fearsome and confident, perfectly designed. I don’t really have shark-like personality, though, I confided. So I guess I’ll have to go with dolphin.
He thanked me and pulled over. I wish I could say I leapt from the Prius with grace, backflipped my way to the park. But truly, I pulled myself out more like I was lumbering onto a rock, worked out the stiffness in my knees as I shuffled across the street, found a sunny patch and flopped down, lazy in the sunshine, as music washed over me.
Kids the same ages as my own milled around, smiled, danced, the beauty of youth still hiding whatever insecurities and sadness might lie under the glow. I sent photos to the Family text thread, miss you, love you. Clouds scattered.