I’d had two fun rides in a row before I picked up Sandra.
Two young ladies were leaving Paint Nite at Joe’s Crab Shack. One had come from Colorado to keep her old friend company after her husband deployed for six months. They had their still-tacky beach landscape canvases in hand. We laughed and chatted the whole ride like we were all good friends.
Next I picked up four Marine officers from Chick’s Oyster Bar. They were boisterous and talked politics with an intelligence and insight that is unusual in a late-night Uber run. These guys were big and solid, crowding my little Corolla. They were witty, articulate, impressive–the kind of men you feel good about entrusting national defense to. The fact that we agreed on matters of politics added to a sense of camaraderie. I was sorry when the ride ended.
Then I picked up Sandra. She was leaving a deserted office building where she’d been working late. Her daughter had ordered the ride for her because her old Mercedes had blown its transmission.
She lived all the way in Newport News, so we had a good long trip to get to know each other. It was a quiet ride compared to the previous two, but no less pleasant.
Sandra recently turned sixty. She had lost her husband, Anthony, to a long illness just over a year ago. They had lived in Hampton Roads for eighteen years, but it had had no noticeable effect on her thick New York accent.
They had come to raise their children away from the challenges of the city, living eight miles off the highway out in the sticks of Suffolk. Apparently the strategy worked. Sandra’s son and daughter were grown, successful and happy. They visited their mom often.
But Sandra was leaving the area at the end of the month. Heading back to the Big Apple after all these years. I asked her why.
“I don’t like being all by myself. I moved from Suffolk to Newport News because it was lonely in that big house out in the country. I don’t like the dark. My children come and see me, but it’s not the same. I want to be around people.”
But there was more to the story.
I asked her if she had a place to move into. She said a relative was going to let her stay with her for the time being. But eventually, well, there’s this guy named Mark.
“Oh! I see,” I teased. “There’s an ulterior motive for this move.”
I asked her if it was hard to think about another romantic relationship–if she felt at all guilty about it.
“Yes. It took me a long time. My Anthony was sick for about three years. It felt like we were saying goodbye for a long time. But it also seems like only a short while ago. I didn’t want to do anything that felt like I was forgetting him.
“But then one night I had a vision. Anthony came to me in my dreams and asked me, ‘Is this the one you’ve chosen?’
I said, ‘I’m not sure.’
He asked again, ‘Is this the one you’ve chosen?’
I said, ‘I think so.’
Then he asked again, ‘Is this the one you’ve chosen?’
And I said, ‘Yes. This is the one.’
And he said, ‘No, he’s not. He’s the one I’ve chosen. He’s the one I picked to love you the way I can’t anymore.'”
“Really?” I said, “That happened in a dream?”
“Yes. It was a vision. And I felt released. Mark is a good man. He makes me laugh and that’s important. We knew each back in high school.”
Mark has also done well. He has a house on Long Island Sound. I have a feeling he and Sandra are going to enjoy life together.