Part 1 -- A Taxi Driver
Mike and I arrived in New York while darkness ate even the stars. Lights shone brightly from looming buildings, and even though I felt like an ant, I couldn't wait to see everything and meet everyone!
A taxi driver pulled to the curb at the airport. Mike had called him shortly after we landed, so we didn't have to flag anyone down. The drive to the hotel was a bit crazy--and long; cars jerked back and forth; the driving lanes seemed much smaller than the kind we have in Idaho.
After a while, the driver asked us where we're from.
"Idaho," Mike said.
"Are the freeways different over there?"
"Oh, yeah!" Mike said.
I laughed so hard--I nearly choked. "Idaho...doesn't have rush hour. Idaho has mostly two-lane freeways. We don't have traffic--we have potatoes. Potatoes and deer."
The driver glanced at us in the rearview mirror and smiled. "So, what brought you to The City?"
"He bought me a ticket to New York for Christmas. I have a kind of strange bucket list--and one of the items on it is playing my violin on the streets of New York."
"You're too young to have a bucket list," he said.
"Not in this traffic!" I said.
"The violin, huh? You're in a band."
"A huh," I said. "And you play something too?!" I could tell by how he gripped the wheel. Years of playing an instrument, well that changes how people hold things.
"The drums," he said. "I used to be in a band--thought we'd go somewhere. But I'm too old now, so I quit."
"You're never too old." It was a stark rebuttal--but I meant it.
Mike and I held hands in the back seat, and I smiled at my sexy Italian. I couldn't believe I married a man who gives me my dreams for Christmas.
"So," I finally said to the cabbie, "if you could give us one piece of advice--one thing for us to remember from this ride--what would you tell us?"
He thought for a minute before responding. "Well.... I've been married for almost 30 years. My wife, she might be opinionated, and I might have to give in...a lot, but Heaven brought that woman to me. When I was young, I had more women than I wanted. I'd go out in this crazy city--and girls would just find me. And then I started getting older...and it's strange what time can do to a man. Once I couldn't have enough women. Then I started wanting something different. Just one, you know?
"So I tried giving my ex a call. Was gonna tell her I wanted to settle down. But I dialed one wrong number. You know we didn't have cell phones, or even those cordless ones. It was one of them rotary phones. Well, I dialed the wrong number and a girl answered. I married that girl a while later and now it's been almost thirty years."
I could see his eyes; he stared out the windshield nostalgically, probably thinking about all the years with his wife. "Sometimes in life you might think you got the wrong number, but you actually got the right one. People think they should: go back and make other choices, change things, be different. If we accept mistakes, they can make our lives better than before. You remember that--it's coming from a has-been musician who drives cabs to put his daughters through college!"
As he pulled up to our hotel, I thought of that saying: God doesn't always give us what we want. He gives us what we need."
"Thank you," Mike and I both told as we got out of the cab.
"I'll never forget what you said." I waved. "And I want you to remember something from me too--you're not too old to play the drums. Maybe you met us so we could hear your story, and then I could tell you to pick your drums back up again!"
"Okay," he smiled fondly. "Have a great time in New York."
We shut the door, and he sped off between those mammoth buildings.