If you get up early enough, the fog is still over the river. It hasn’t rolled off onto the town, yet, like a sleepy person stretching out before getting out of bed. Some mornings up at the community garden, I’ve watched it creep all the way up onto the hill and a walk that was perfectly clear becomes foggy by the end.
This morning, I took a car full of girls to marching band camp. I zig-zagged all over downtown, picking them up. They crammed their rifles and their instruments into the car. They compared their huge water containers, and debated whether they were really a gallon like they were supposed to be and whether it would matter. They told a story about having to carry a frozen cucumber between their legs in a relay race, and there’s really not much more that can be said about that.
I understand that not all people take comfort in being known. On my drive just this morning, I saw five people I knew, up and moving about their day. A friend walking his dog. A neighbor going to work. Sometimes when I drive home from work at the college in the afternoon, I count how many people I know driving along Main Street and I squirrel the knowledge away like a shiny trinket I can take out later and hold in my hand. It’s not a popularity contest. I have no idea if the people I see like me or not. But they know me, and I know them. And this is important.
I went on a trip earlier this summer, and driving a few states away, we got caught in a heavy rain. So heavy we had to pull over on the side of the interstate. It was frightening, the cars moving fast and still miles away from where we were going. Even when we got there, only a few people would know us.
Then the same thing happened here in town as I was driving home from the college. A torrential downpour. I could barely see. I just kept driving. I was not afraid.
There was thunder and wind and the thought occurred to me that a tree could fall over on my car. A tornado could suck me up off the road. I could skid on the wet street and lose control. And I certainly didn’t want any of that to happen, but it wasn’t so scary as long as I was home. My worst fear is to die somewhere no one knows me. “Make sure to bring me home,” I am always telling my husband.
From my window, now, I can see the fog still on the river and hear the sound of a barge, blowing its horn, navigating through that void. What would it feel like to be the tugboat captain out there, responsible for that massive line of metal? A straight line cruising through curves. Watching the world on shore. Waiting for the fog to lift.