Saturday, August 31, 2013

Traffic Light

She's waiting for the light to change, No Doubt providing the latest soundtrack to her life in the car, which she likes to think is perceptibly different from her life out of the car. She wonders if listening to No Doubt makes her hip, or whether the fact that she is even contemplating that question reveals her to be the antithesis of hip. But Gwen does make her feel vibrant -- alive in an electric way that she can't seem to replicate when she's not driving her car. Which is red. Come to think of it, that may have something to do with how she feels as she zips around town in her zippy vehicle. There is a reason that red cars cost more to insure.

She's using her steering wheel as a drum to accompany Gwen et al. when she notices the motorcyclist in the next lane over. Her first thought disappoints her: 
What an idiot, not wearing a helmet. It's just so drearily maternal. She blinks and tries again. Sees jeans broken in just right and a white t-shirt failing to conceal a slender but taut physique. His biceps are toned -- not aggressively, but enough to convince her that there isn't an ounce of fat on his upper arms. She sighs. Her own upper arms are her nemesis. Turning back to the James Dean (or is it the Brad Pitt?) biker, she takes in his black boots -- power boots, they are, with rugged, masculine soles. Finally, she slides her eyes up to his face. But he is turned away from her, and all she gets is a glimpse of short, spiky, sandy brown hair.

The light turns green. She will never know his age, or the color of his eyes. Whether his face is as handsome as the rest of him.

But as she lies in bed that night, she determines that it's all for the good. Had he turned towards her car, he might have seen her. What would he have thought? He would have noted the children's car seats, the deep circles under her eyes, her flyaway hair, and yes, those upper arms. And he would have assumed things. Some correct, no doubt. Others well off the mark.

She flips onto her stomach. 
It's better this way, she thinks, before closing her eyes and willing sleep to take her to a place where both he and she might like what they saw when they looked at each other, not with sidelong glances, but with eyes open, generous, willing to forgive.

written in 2008

6 comments:

V-Grrrl @ Compost Studios said...

Love this.

I never know whether to celebrate or mourn my loss of attraction...

Nicole said...

I really, really like this, Sarah. It's so complex. I've felt like this many times in my life.

Liz said...

Love this, and can completely identify. The No Doubt reference makes me think with amusement of a recent episode in which I said to my younger son (in a setting where they had friends around): "Just tell me if I'm cramping your style", to which he replied "The fact that you use the phrase 'cramping your style' cramps my style"!! The same son described his maths teacher as a "nice, older lady" - I was both amused and horrified to discover on meeting her that she was an attractive blonde who I would guess is in her early forties. And oh, that moment when you catch sight of yourself in a reflective surface and do the whole "Holy shit - that tired looking middle aged woman is ME?!?" routine (a regular occurrence for me at the supermarket). I often think of older people I've worked with as a social worker who have said ruefully that while they're elderly (and, in the circumstances in which I have met them, in poor health), they still feel like a much younger person inside and are still shocked when they look in the mirror to see an undeniably old face looking back. Guess my main response to all this is to try and teach my boys that first impressions should not be relied upon. (Sorry if this comment is very disjointed - some rather chaotic Fathers' Day cooking is going on across the room which is creating a high level of distraction!!).

alejna said...

This is such wonderful writing. I am, as always, impressed by how much you can pack into such a small number of words. I love that this whole story is about such a short moment in time, and yet about a whole stage in life at the same time. The title fits so perfectly.

Christine said...

yes. yes on so many levels.

Jenny from the cellblock said...

Oh yes, and then some. Lovely.