Here’s what first endeared me to my husband: it happened on our second or third date. We’d set out for the evening, bound for Annapolis from Washington, DC. We’d gone about five miles, and just as we were approaching the Beltway I realized I’d left my purse at home. I felt desperate: no I.D., no money, no, phone. Nada! So I told timidly Jim.
I braced for annoyance, or at least an argument that I didn’t need it. It seemed like a poor way to begin a relationship.
But Jim just said, with a very gentle smile, “No problem. This car makes U-turns.” Beautiful words!
Covid caused a lot of U-turns – in our work, education, vacation plans. Weddings and funerals were put on hold. Many of us hit detours. But it’s not always a plague that disrupts us. Anything can come as a major life surprise.
I’m collecting stories about people who took the pieces of an old life and repurposed them for something new – and often better. Sometimes the change was a choice – sometimes not. In every case, the person refused to become a victim. He or she became an agent of their own destiny.
A TV newscaster relinquished a glamorous career to help her own autistic child and others. A Salvadoran campesino’s son worked his way through school and paid for eleven siblings to get an education, bought his parents a home, and opened a medical facility for his village. Now he owns apartment houses in Washington, DC. A mixed-race farm girl excelled at field and track, was spotted and recruited by a Naval Academy coach, and became a radar specialist. A couple turned the tragic loss of a seven-month-old baby into a home for more than 50 children (biological, foster and adopted) over the years.
These stories inspire me. (I hope they’ll become a book.) To paraphrase William Faulkner, “They not only endured. They prevailed.” You can too.
For a musical riff on the theme, listen to Hank Williams singing “Detour.”