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How to Find Meaning in a Detour [A New Year's Story]

On New Years Eve morning, I write to you from the DMV.

Because amidst plans and visions for the future, I am here to re-do something.

I’m here getting my driver’s license because I’ve managed on the cusp of 2020, for the first time in my life, to completely lose my purse.

Amidst tearing my home and car apart, checking my bank and credit card accounts for unusual activity [none], even searching the yard where Jack the dog likes to hide things [he once hid my running shoes], asking the older boys to “look everywhere!”, checking the refrigerator, the recycles, my running partner’s car [even her other car that we didn’t use], my head game was not good.

I reviewed the unfairness, the great injustice.

Remember the old movies where someone slaps the actress on each cheek while she slowly and dramatically come to her senses?

That was me talking to me.

“No! This will totally upend my life!”

“No! I won’t be able to get my driver’s license because it’s the holidays!”

“But I don’t even know everything that was in my purse!"

“I won't. I just can’t call and cancel all of my cards.”

“I t ' s...j u s t…. n o t... f a i r !”

By evening of little New Year's Eve, I accepted my fate.

And I almost, just almost, got to the DMV today as the doors opened. Sure, I walked in at 8:05 and became #29, but it could be worse.

Because I’m now halfway toward the first step of what yesterday felt impossible.

And I’ve visited the bathroom to check my hair, get the toast out of my teeth, and only briefly lamented that I have no more lipsticks. [Yep, purse.]

I’ve made the woman next to me laugh and me laugh too when the video I was watching on Facebook alighted in full volume with Adele singing a husky “Hello” just as she sat down. “Hello,” the funny woman told me with a smile. My heart noted she is of my tribe.

When the very nice DMV technician, swiftly processed my request and required zero of the original identifying documents I brought along, I couldn’t help but take it as a personal compliment.

Oh, and like a DMV bonus, after losing 15 pounds in 2019, I finally had a bonafide reason to officially change my weight on my driver’s license, which of course meant adjusting the ODL number by five.

When the final DMV personnel asked me to verify my information on my temporary paper license, I admit it was my weight I was trying to approve but the print was so small [did I mention I got older in 2019?] I could hardly read it. And I almost explained this, when suddenly I feared having to take a vision test and restarting the whole process. “Sorry, I kind of zoned out there,” I offered for my lengthy proofreading. Interestingly, “zoning out while reading” did not seem to delegitimize my purpose in being there.

I’ve since left the Lake Oswego DMV, practically skipping to the nearby Starbucks when my heart sank as it occurred to me I had no purse [dammit]. And yet it soared again when I remembered the $100 bill I put in my pocket in case the DMV would not permit a check [because despite all contrary evidence I really am responsible. I swear.]. The espresso line was long, but what did I care? I was happy.

I briefly thought about buying the person in front of me their coffee, then the person behind me. Eventually, I decided to save it because we’re helping out at Blanchet House in a few hours and the cash could be useful helping folks who need more than Starbucks. I congratulated myself for thinking ahead.

I was feeling pretty good, even as Marissa from Starbucks told me they couldn’t break my hundred dollar bill and my coffee dreams evaporated. But when she realized it as only $3.45 she bought it for me! The Starbucks barista bought my freakin’ coffee!

So, how do you find meaning in a detour? 

It isn't easy. And it won't happen right away.

But when you accept that like it or not you are going down this road and life can drag you kicking and screaming, or you can go willingly. You can take a shower, grab a book, kiss your kids, and notify yourself, that upon second thought, there's only forward now.

Because it's only in willingness that we can remember this:

Each day is a gift.

Who knows what tomorrow will bring.

So let your freak flag fly. 

And may the combination of all the days, both the good and the wonderful, the bad and the annoying, the purse-full and the penniless, make it your best year ever.


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