I had coffee with a friend this morning, and she was relating to me a story about an adventure she had this past weekend with her daughter while they were out of town. The writer in me found it delightful, wanting to capture it and share with others. The sharing is the storyteller that I believe is in all of us, although in our modern era we seem to have given it the back seat of our lives. Our ancestors were wise and perhaps blessed, in not having so many distractions that deterred them from taking the precious time of the telling and retelling of stories; stories that both delight us and help us to find a commonality that we can share in.
Circling the City
We had a whole afternoon to kill after checking out of our hotel. I wondered what in the world we could do in this city we had never been to that would keep a young teenage girl entertained, without hearing the strains of, “Mom this is so boring! Oh my God, when will we be able to get on the plane and go home?!” I had wandered around the city one day while Anne was meeting with a group of other prospective college students. To put them at ease the group was led by some student volunteers at the college, not much older than the visitors themselves, gladly herding the masses of those making the rounds of college visits. These hard working volunteers had put together a “students only – no parents allowed” time, designed to allow the group of oftentimes shy teenagers to feel more at ease without mom or dad standing nearby asking possibly embarrassing questions. In my sojourn of the city that day, I found plenty of restaurants, museums, and the sports stadium but to my surprise I couldn’t find anywhere to shop. I asked about this at the front desk of the hotel when Anne and I returned after her campus visit; where was the nearest place to shop? We found out that the mall 10 miles away was the nearest shopping experience, and was easily accessible by taking the number 19 bus. So after checking out by noon on our last day, I asked at the front desk if they might be able to secure our luggage somewhere while we went out for a little adventure before heading home. They graciously found a place behind the desk for our things, and out the door we went to find bus number 19.
We searched high and low for the bus stop, when Anne spotted the train stop. “Look Mom, there’s a train just like we have at home. Why don’t we just take that instead?” Oh, the unbridled enthusiasm and lack of fear that the teenager possesses. Well, why not? I thought. We were used to taking public transportation at home, and I figured it couldn’t be that much different than any other city train. So with tickets in hand, we boarded the next train that came our way. We found a place to sit, and I started studying the map of the train route. I thought I had found our stop, so we got off on the 1300 block. But as we started walking, I thought to reach into my pocket to double check the street address of the mall – a thought that had come to me before we left the hotel. In horror I realized that the mall was 4300, not 1300 – we were 30 blocks away! Much too far for us to walk, even if we had to time to do so. But once more my daughter’s keen eyes spotted the ever elusive number 19 bus stop. Finally! Now we could just hop on and ride the 30 blocks, do a little shopping and head back to the hotel in time to catch out airport shuttle. So once more with tickets in hand, we climbed aboard for another ride. After a time though, I started to wonder as we begin to loop our way around the streets, rather than making our way from 1300 to 4300. In all actuality, we seemed to be headed in the opposite direction! My fears were confirmed when I saw the familiar buildings around our hotel; we had just completed a very large circle of the city! All we could do was laugh it off, and pretend that we had really meant to take a tour of the city like any other tourist; and we walked off the bus empty handed of shopping items but full of the excitement and satisfaction of having survived an adventure in a strange city.