We pull up to the stop light on Camelback Road and all of us – my friend Kelly behind the wheel, Murielle in the back seat and I – turn our heads to the left at the same time and put pause on the swirling conversation and laughter. In a moment of silence, our eyes glue to the yellow convertible pulled up next to us. We watch the man at the wheel and the woman seated next to him wearing the fur-lined hood looking straight ahead through the entire span of the red light.
It’s a typical December afternoon in Phoenix, sun shining us squinty, cerulean sky sans clouds, and cool, dry air. But it seems odd to see someone covered up in a parka driving with the top down.
And just like the parts in a symphony, we tell their story the way we see it as if cued by a director holding a baton. Each of us shares a unique version of color, dialogue, and feelings for our own made-up version of their story. A sporadic tragic comedy spurred on while sitting in traffic.
I do this a lot. It’s the writer in me. Make up stories in my mind about the stark white-skinned Minnesotans carrying sand toys and umbrellas past me on the beach. Or create a drama about the teenager reacting to her mother in the dressing room at Forever 21.
Maybe it comes from sitting for hours at makeup counters in department stores as a child while my mother bought an entire line of new skin care. Watching people around me and then making up their stories to pass the time.
But after we tell the tale of the miserable couple in the yellow convertible, each line more absurd and humorous than the last, I wonder if it isn’t easier to lose ourselves in the story of someone else than to live the one God gave us.
I know what I’m doing. I have it all planned out—plans to take care of you, not abandon you, plans to give you the future you hope for.
~Jeremiah 29:11, The Message