To whom it may concern:
My name is Pearl and I am a Japanese American born in 2007. I currently reside in downtown Nashville but have only lived there about 7 months. My new travel partner is a middle aged white guy who is, in a word, bizarre.
His behavior has intrigued me to say the least and I am still trying to figure out what kind of man he is and from where he came. Sometimes he seems happy and content. Sometimes he is silent, full of thought. Sometimes he is sad to the point where I worry that he may be depressed. He prays, sings, laughs, cries and even yells during our many trips together. He likes music. Many kinds. I am perplexed at the many styles of music he enjoys. He cannot seem to be able to choose a favorite genre. He listens to NPR on the way to work. K-Love on Sundays and everything else in between!
We have traveled many miles together and even though he frustrates me at times with his attitude and his driving, I have become quite attached to him. Most of the time when we go places whether they are his work, his church, a friend’s house, a restaurant, etc. we travel alone. The two of us.
That changed last week.
It was a Tuesday night when we picked up the first one. She was young and kinda quiet. He welcomed her as she climbed in the back seat. They chatted almost as if they knew each other. Like maybe they had met before, had some mutual acquaintance. He drove her a few miles, wished her a good night and dropped her off at what appeared to be her residence. We would never see her again. Very odd indeed.
That was the first of many such trips that week. Over the next few days, he would open up an app, place a black and white sticker on the windshield and drive around town looking for people to give rides to! “What are we doing?” I would think to myself. Why can’t I have a nice relaxing evening like before? Why must I go on these excursions with these strange yet entertaining people? Why can’t he have a normal hobby like watching Netflix, blogging, bar-hopping or anything that would not involve me?!
During our many drives that I like to refer to as “Trips with strangers” we have picked up students, elderly folks, party animals, happy couples, sad couples, professionals and douche bags. We have had questions asked anywhere from the normal, mundane, “So how long have you lived in Nashville?” to “Hey man do you mind if I vape?” We have learned way too much about certain passengers and not enough about others.
We have gone to birthday parties, concerts, sporting events, hotels, bars and eateries. We have driven all over this city hauling random people who are all very excited to take the short trip across town with us. I have learned a lot about the people of this city and I have learned a lot about the people that visit this city. I have learned new routes, new places to eat and drink and the difference between love and lust. I have learned how shallow college girls are and how utterly stupid college boys are. I have learned that when people drink alcohol they tend to get louder and more obnoxious. Not to mention they tend to be brutally honest. I have also learned what true love looks like.
No story sums up what true love represents better than the following:
It was the last ride of the night on Friday. He promised we would go home after one more pickup on Broadway (man I am beginning to hate that place). It was an absolute miracle that they found us amidst all the chaos. Taxi vans essentially created a barricade so that we could not reach the curb at all. Then, like magic, they appeared. They were forced to walk out in the road, “froggering” their way to us. They reeked of liquor and sorrow. They explained to us (very freely) that not all family members approved of their pending marriage.
Once we hit the road, one passed out and the other talked to us about travel, relationships, hardships and a bunch of other things. Talking about life with a total stranger. Craziness!
We pulled off the interstate and the one that had essentially fallen into a deep sleep began to stir. She began to grimace. We looked back with worry. Then the worst case scenario for me started to unfold.
Lots of vomit. More than I have ever seen in all my life. I was mortified! But amazingly the fiancé of the “8th Wonder of the Puking World” pulled off something that can only be described as complete and total selfless love. She shielded me as best as she could and absorbed the vast majority of the projectiles. It was both horrific and heroic at the same time. I glanced at my partner and I could tell he didn’t know how to react at first. On one hand he wanted to get her out of the car immediately to limit the amount of damage done to me (which I appreciate obviously) but on the other hand he saw this as a test. A test of his kindness. Even though these were two strangers at first, we felt like they were our friends by the end of the journey.
I’m not sure if he thinks he passed this “test” or not but one thing was certain: watching that act of love made a profound impact.
More stories to come I’m sure!