My friend who has no cell phone (yes, indeed) phones me from someone else’s phone when she needs a ride, due to being “in a pickle.” I don’t get the message, as I’m on the phone with a hard-working journalist who’s graciously writing about my book.
Since it’s my lousy cell phone, I get the message about 20 minutes later, as messages are conveyed to my cell phone via carrier pigeon. I phone the stranger, who’s no help at all, but really darn nice.
I get in my car and go search for my friend, listening to a replay of Vermont Public Radio’s Brave Little State about the housing crisis. I pull into Montpelier and get out to look for my friend right around the time the podcast delves into interest rates and their role in this actual Real Life problem.
My friend is fine and home by then, and I sit on the steps of a closed restaurant and talk to her for a good long while. It’s dark, but not late, and the air is warm. I’m in this tiny little city that smells deliciously of something spicy, not sweet like cinnamon, but spicy like hot chili oil. I’m across from my beloved public library, closed up now, where I worked so many lovely long days, pre-pandemic, with never a thought that those days might cease for me. Since I have no real place to be, and my friend is ebullient to be home and safe, I tell her about the night so many years ago when I stood with my baby just down the street and contemplated renting a room in the inn and never going home. I’ve thought about that night and those crossroads in my life for years now, but when I tell my friend this story now, I imagine that long ago night lifting on little dove wings and fluttering over the roof tops.
I turn off my phone and drive home under the starlight.