Rushing through traffic in Coral Gables, leaving a mall I can hardly afford to park in, let alone shop in, after looking for a job I begin to get a bit anxious. In a roundabout where I have the right-of-way, I halt for a Maserati because, in my mind, a Maserati deserves the right of way. I make my way through to South Miami and my anxiety over not-having ,grows. There is Misha’s Cupcakes nestled perfectly in a row of shops a few steps from 5 Guys and I think, Jassy – my little cousin – would love a lunch date at 5 guys with cupcakes to finish. And then I get a little anxious that I don’t even have Burgers and Fries money. Then somewhere on Red Road, passing shops that Miami’s Upper Middle and some Old Money society members frequent, my gas light comes on. And I’m far from home.
After being “anxious” about what I didn’t have compared to what I wanted, I was immediately calm. Not just because Old Cutler is one of those story-book streets with huge trees canopying a two-lane winding road. Not just because that was the road my father would take home after long days at the beach and those twists and turns were a sort of lullaby for my body. Not just because I was, at the very base of things, going home. Driving on Old Cutler puts things into perspective for me. The houses I pass vary from your average single family home with not-so average yards to miniature castles. When I was extremely young, my parents and I would point out houses we liked, and say that they looked like libraries, or business buildings, or castles. i knew then, at 4, and again at 15, and again now, that without a doubt, I want to own a home on Old Cutler.
As I drove past private schools my elementary class mates attended while I went to public schools, I knew I wanted to have my kids choose for themselves if they were going to Gulliver-private- or Palmetto – public. As I saw women in their 40’s jogging down the sidewalks along perfectly trimmed yards and ornate gateways, I saw myself doing that. Or maybe I’d just powerwalk. To top it all off, there’s a little place – Wayside Market – which I used to stop at for THE BEST milkshakes this side of the moon. I used to hop out of the car taking in the little open air store’s scent of fresh fruits, running around the stands picking out things to take home. Then I’d sit on one of the benches, legs swinging – as they still do- slurping away at a fresh, handmade milkshake while the breeze which always seems to exist there, cool and constant, ran over me like a soft blanket.
On my drive I knew, I wanted to live a bike ride’s distance from that market so I could bring my kids there. I wanted to sit and watch my children play in one of those hideaway parks. I wanted to have a husband who would drive us back from long days at the beach and scoop our sleeping children out of the car into our library, business building, castle. And hell, if there was no man, and no children, I want to live there still. If I would be a lonely writer anywhere in the world, I think I’d very much like the canopy and ornate gates to be what makes me feel safe and at home. I’d ride my bike on my own and grab a milkshake and then ride to the park and people watch and write like J.M. Barry. Either way, I knew EXACTLY what i wanted after that long, gasless drive.
I know now, for sure and without a doubt, that I want to be a college professor of Shakesperean and Distopian Literature. I know now, for sure that I want to be a canonical writer before I turn 40, a famous poet before 30, and a dedicated writer, immediately. I know now, for damn sure, that I don’t want a man because he’s handsome. Or because he’s rich. I want one who’ll hold my hand on those long drives home singing along to Marvin Gaye, one who’ll surprise me with flowers as I wait in line for my milkshake, one who’d ride our son to the park and teach him how to throw anything; a football, a baseball, a punch, even.
So now, all of the anxiety over not having that man, that house, that job yet, is gone. To be honest, 10 minutes before I didn’t know what type of man I wanted and thought “tall, maybe half-black” sufficed as a set of requirements. I didn’t know how I’d make a decent income, just that I wanted one. And I still don’t know exactly how I’m going to get those things. I know i have to start taking steps. Though detachment is one of the things I’ve been studying as I have a problem with holding onto things, ideas and people. I used to think it was all about “not caring” But in the Bhagavad Gita Krishna tells us to do our best for the destiny that has been laid out for us. Detachment, life, is not just about sitting around and letting things happen. It’s about knowing what your destiny is, what you want, and doing the right things to get there. And you don’t get upset when things don’t work out. You just take a breath, and continue on your path.
So really, it was all about me knowing what path I was on. Where I wanted to end up. Knowing does two things – gets me much more focused, but also sets my standards right where they should be. Now that I know, there is no settling.