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A young girl

Somewhere on the Colorado prairie a young girl gets into a crummy old car. Used and abused, the car burns oil, runs fitfully and tends to overheat; but she bought it defiantly, on her own, with no input from her father, an expert at picking a good car. Her mom and dad don’t know she bought the junker, nor do they know she quit college and is moving from boring old Colorado to exciting, glittery San Francisco. The girl hasn’t told her parents yet, as this is one in a string of completely headstrong decisions, and she is determined to avoid the inexorable parental lecture.The girl is 21 and all grown up. She has endured a lifetime of parental cheers and also disapproving clucking about her choices. She knows the drill and figures telling them of the fact will be better than telling them of the intention. Dad is particularly annoying. Dad disapproves of her appearance, of irrevocable pop-culture modifications to her look. She is vexed by him. She’s grown up, after all, and can do what she wants! How dare he disapprove. Dad told her that in the grown-up world, we all can do more or less what we want, and this includes withholding approval.Humpf! The heck with dad. She’s told mom she could never marry a man like dad – too rigid and engineer headed, not open-minded and free like her generation. Her childhood was boring. Colorado is boring. All packed and with a friend, off she goes without looking back, in a cloud of dust and faint blue smoke. She’s got life figured out and archived completely in the chip on her shoulder.A day or two into the trip the car (true to its nature) begins to overheat. The girl and her friend are in the Mojave Desert in June. She remembers when she last crossed the Mojave as a young girl. Dad took her and her brother to ride the mules for a week of alpine camping in Yosemite National Park. It was 115 degrees in the desert and the family car was overheating. Dad had them roll down the windows as he turned off the air conditioner and cranked on the heater.”The heater is just an extra radiator and running it will give this car the extra bit of cooling it needs. We’ll do all right. Just hold on to that bag of ice, and use the spray bottles of water we brought to keep cool. We’ll be in the mountains before long.”Her friend says she’s crazy when she turns the heater on “outside air” and “high,” but the needle falls back from the red zone. When she stops for gas, she remembers how dad would check the oil. “More oil gets by the piston rings when things are hot,” he’d said.The girl and her friend make it to San Francisco. They stay with a friend for a week while they look for a place to rent.”Eight hundred dollars a month? For a bedroom in a house, with housemates?” Appalling. At this rate, her money won’t last long. In Colorado, such rent would get them a nice home in a good neighborhood. Here they rent a dive. The neighborhood is not so good. The housemates are not good at all. Costs are high. Taxes are high. Soon the girl realizes she’s going to need two jobs to survive. Her friend has left to return to Colorado. They fussed. She said her friend has no gumption. The friend said she was too rigid in her disapproval of the friend deciding to go home.The girl interviews well with her articulate and straight forward personality, and in short order she’s managing a coffee house and working at a record store in the evenings. The car she must sell. There is no parking in San Francisco, and she must take the bus to where she’s parked the car on the outskirts of town and move it from time to time or it will be towed to an impound lot.San Francisco is amazing to her, but enjoyment is elusive when one is working two jobs and living life by the bus schedules. Wages are OK, but taxes are heavy, she finds. Calling mom, she says that the taxpayers fund a drug culture in San Francisco. “There are homeless everywhere, and man have they got an attitude of entitlement! On the first of the month they get their welfare checks and go out and buy drugs. This one druggie bum I see all the time, wants to come into our coffee house and use the bathroom to shoot up. My coworkers and I shouldn’t have to clean up his needles! I told him, ‘no, the bathroom is for customers only,’ and he went outside and urinated on the front of the store in front of everyone! I’m working two jobs and paying taxes so this creep can enjoy his ‘lifestyle?'”Mom smiles unseen and to herself. With the way the young girl is talking and how she is solving problems along the way, she sounds like her father.The creepy housemates get worse. They are on the lease, and the girl from Colorado is not. She is told that she may not have company over, nor use the kitchen, have a cat or keep houseplants! (They encourage bugs, don’t you know?) She enjoys the city, its charms and museums, but everyone is about networking and about themselves. There is no slower pace, like in Colorado.One day, the young girl hikes up Telegraph Hill. Like everyone else, she looks out over the shimmering bay and to the ocean beyond. Then she does something different. She turns around and gazes east, and at that moment she perhaps saw farther than anyone has ever seen from there. At that moment she could see all the way to Colorado where mom and dad worry about her and want the best for her. She could see her friends, her brother that misses her wisdom and people who have the time to respond to her with a smile. Calling home, she asks might she ship them her trunk?”Of course.”She’s saved up some money, but could she stay at home a few days while she finds a place to rent?”You sure can.”And, uh, a car? Before San Francisco, back in college in the span of two years she had trashed and junked the gorgeous smooth running car dad had given her for college. Could, would dad maybe help her find a good car?”Dad always has a spare old car around the place for emergencies. You know your father, he’s gone through the car completely and it’s perfect, but he says you’ll have to pay for this one, or you’ll never respect it.”The young girl says that she wouldn’t have it any other way. Mom smiles again unseen on the other end of the line. The young girl is stubborn and driven and “if you don’t have any goals, then what the heck are you about?” Her father’s daughter. Of course, the young girl “wouldn’t have it any other way.” She’s proud, but in some ways she was wrong and she knows it, owns it.”Come home sweetheart. When do we meet your plane in Colorado Springs?”The young girl has had an adventure. She’s seen a lot, learned a lot. But the biggest view she’s gotten is the view inside her own heart, and the greatest sight is insight – provided by the mirror of freedom, wonder, adversity and distance. She realizes that sometimes the only way to see the wholeness of what matters is from very far away.The young girl takes a bus to the airport and with a spring in her step walks to an airplane, a magic carpet that will deliver her to the arms of people that matter. People that absence and distance have allowed her to see into clearly and deeply for the first time.Tom

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