Why is it so hard to get to Baltimore?
Yesterday morning, I picked up the Flexcar (it lives behind my house), pulled out to H St. and noticed that something was wrong. It was making a funny noise and it was pulling strenuously to the right (perhaps the car is also a port?). Guess what? The right front tire was as flat as a pancake. Oy.
Flexcar has this handy—dandy toll-free emergency line, so I called them. And it rang and rang and rang and rang. I wasn't sure what to do. There was a spare (a donut, not suitable for driving all the way to Baltimore), a jack and a tire iron in the trunk. I could change the tire—but is this what they want me to do? Should I wait for a tow? Why change the tire if it weren't necessary?
Ten minutes later, no one had answered the emergency line. I was angry and frustrated. I wanted to scream but there was no one scream at—I had that complete sense of helplessness. Yet I wasn't helpless and I finally decided to change the tire, drive home and try and contact Flexcar from there. Hopefully I could get another car (there are a few others within walking distance of my place).
I started the tire changing process, jacked up the car and was struggling to loosen the lug nuts (still calling Flexcar on the cell phone), when a man pulled over and asked me if I needed help.
I was not particularly gracious towards the strange man. I grumbled something about how it wasn't my car and I couldn't loosen the lug nuts. He pulled on some work gloves and in a few minutes he had the tire off. I rolled over the donut and he put it on. Then he put the dirty, nasty flat tire in the trunk. He said, "You don't want to get dirty." I said, "I'm already filthy." But I let him lift the tire into the trunk for me. I thanked him several times (but I didn't give him money—was I supposed to?) and he drove away.
Strangers have always helped me out when I've had car trouble. I'm very lucky.
When I got home, I reached Flexcar via the local number and they made an alternate reservation for me. I called my brother and told him I would be late. I was calm by then and the drive to Baltimore was uneventful.
Seeing B2 was good. We didn't really do anything. First, we stopped by Target to look for an Afikomen (remember Passover?) present for the youngest niece. We didn't get her anything, but I picked up a new softball glove. Then it was (more or less) time for lunch and we headed over to the pizza place. We each had a cheese slice and a soft serve ice cream.
We talked a lot about his kids and I droned on about rowing. Really, Pele can tell you, ask me one rowing-type question and you will get about thirty minutes of narrative on rowing behavior, team mentality and technique. Apparently, I am obsessed. But B2, who had no idea that I'd rowed in grad school, seemed interested and was even able to draw some similarities between the coach-athlete relationship and the student-teacher one (he is a teacher).
As usual, or maybe more than usual, our conversation was quite good and I enjoyed our time together. I don't know why, but this time was less awkward than in the past—maybe because I'd seen him so recently, it took us less time to warm up to each other.
There have been some problems between my nephew's new wife, Avital, and the family. (I was in Israel recently to attend my nephew's wedding. Full story here.) It's not clear why, but Avital has decided that the family doesn't like her and she's angry. I said to B2, "I think part of the problem is that she doesn't want to wear the sheital." (The sheital is the wig that married Jewish women wear. Married Orthodox women traditionally keep their hair covered—wig, hat and scarf all work.)
B2 said, "It's funny that you mention that because she's been seen outside not wearing it."
Just as I predicted—not wearing the sheital would not go unnoticed. Their world is too small.
Then, for the first time, I told B2 this story (the crucial part is in the 5th paragraph). He laughed.
(For more than you ever wanted to know about how to observe the orthodox rules for women, check out this site. It's astonishingly complex.)
It was clear to me that while uncovering her hair is a big deal, it would hardly keep B2 and family from accepting her. I think she is angrily defensively, but what do I know?
B2 said, "There is this thing, called Modern Orthodox. Maybe that's what they are leaning towards." It would certainly appear so.
I tried to point out that all of this is not about B2 anymore. He seems to get it, but it's not easy for him. Then again, he is an even tempered person. I think it will all work out.
After lunch, I took B2 downtown to his bank where depositing checks took an inordinate amount of time. Afterwards, we went to Fells Point (my idea) and walked to the end of one of the docks and looked at the water. It was an exceptionally lovely day. I yammered on about rowing. Oh well. I drove B2 back and he thanked me again for making the trip. I said I was happy to do it—and it was true.
It was about 4:45 pm and I had serious doubts about making it back in time for rowing practice (start time: 6:30pm). The traffic gods smiled at me. I was at the boathouse on the dot, just having time to change and ride my bike down there. Since they are always running a little late, a 6:30pm arrival is almost like being early.
Practice was hard, but I still enjoyed it. My right shoulder is killing me and I can't figure out what I'm doing to make that happen. I need to talk to the coach about it. I'm committed to practice four days a week for at least the next few weeks. When I get my form back, I may be comfortable taking the occasional night off. For now, I want to get back to where I used to be and nothing will do that but consistency. The process may be a little painful, but I have no doubt I'll get there.
Grateful for: kind strangers.
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