Two Parking Spaces

It was a long time ago.  I was visiting mom and dad in Toronto, from my new home in Alberta.  I wanted to visit my old favourite bookstore on Hoskin Street and borrowed dad’s car.

I was creeping along Hoskin, trying to remember what the storefront looked like.  And there it was!  Plus an empty parking space.  I put on my turn signal, pulled alongside the car in front, looked over my shoulder, and prepared to demonstrate my parallel parking skills.

And then … horn blaring from behind.  Again and again.  A car was right up to my rear bumper.  I couldn’t back into the space.

I was shocked, and that noise kept blasting into my head.  Every muscle contracted and so did my brain.  I put dad’s car into “Drive” and sped off.

On a side street, I gathered myself (sort of).  Heart still pounding.  Fear in my throat.  Shame in my soul.  Why did I give in?  Why did I let another human being abuse me?  Well … maybe because I was 35 and scared of everybody.

Over the years, I’ve looked back at that moment and cringed.  Over the years, I’ve become a Buddhist and have seen peace grow within me.  Equanimity.  Doing no harm.  But in the midst of “letting go”, over and over again, I also see the need to stand up, stand tall, and defend my rights.

Yesterday, I was creeping along Dundas Street in London, seeking a parking space near Aeolian Hall.  And there’s one!  I put on my turn signal, pulled alongside the car in front, looked over my shoulderand prepared to demonstrate my parallel parking skills.

I started backing and began turning the wheel when I was opposite the car’s rear bumper … Honk!  Honk!

Glancing into my side mirror, there was the front end of a car inches from my rear.  Honk!  I couldn’t risk going back further.  Honk!  But neither could I risk sacrificing my soul on the altar of peer pressure.

I held Scarlet at the severe angle.  Two more honks.  I sat.  Silence.  And then the driver behind squealed their tires around me.  I nodded.

Behind was another car, a more patient variety.  I checked my mirrors and pulled into the spot pretty well.

I sat some more.  No fluttering heart.  No mega-pulse.  Just quiet inside.

A lot has happened in the years between.  I guess I’ve grown up.  And something else too.  In the nighttime of Dundas Street, my eyes moistened.  I thought of the honker and felt so sad for him or her.  What kind of life must it be if you have to block a fellow traveller from his simple mission?  Does every little thing cause pain for this person?  And what’s it like for their family?

The world needs kindness, assertiveness and happiness.  May we all live here.

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