Let me set the scene for you. It was a day. Probably a weekday. Or maybe a weekend. Either way, it was a day nonetheless, these details unimportant. There was an air of hustle and bustle in the streets. Cars and people and bikes all doing their things.
I was in one of those cars – I recall that clearly – on a one way street. I was the driver. In full control with hands firmly grasped at 9 o’clock and 3 o’clock, hook grip engaged. Ready for exquisite maneuvering.
This is an important detail because the parking was on the left side, not the right side.
Like those memories from our youth, the ones that bring an immediate sense of joy, the late summer drives to get ice cream with the family, or the birthday trips to Chuck-E-Cheese, the synaptic connections that evoke happy times have seared this event forever in my psyche.
It was the day I nailed a left sided parallel park. With an onlooker looking on.
It was a young woman in her late 80s to early 90s who had stopped on the sidewalk to watch. Her bespectacled peepers creepered me intently. I could feel them, her gaze unwavering.
The pressure was on
I nailed it.
In that one deft movement, I had smoothly guided my ride into the tight spot between the two previously parked cars, on the opposite side than usual. Out gushed my breath in a jubilant sigh, not even having realized I’d been holding it under the intense judgement of her obvious surveillance. That dizzying, giddy rush filled my brain as my next deep inhale replenished my oxygen stores.
I turned to meet her gaze, the valve opened, pressure released.
In that moment, in her eyes, I saw admiration. That twinkle of acknowledgement, a glimmer of kinship forged beyond the ages, one that transcended time and place. The corners of her mouth, showing the beginnings of a smile. She gifted me a slight nod of her babushka-clad head as she slowly and gingerly wheeled past my park job on her top-of-the-line 4-wheeled Nexus walker. As she haltingly glided beyond me, her voice, clear and strong, broke our silent communication:
Perfect back up parking, my dear. I would know, I used to drive. I loved driving. Wish I could still do it.
And then, while basking in all my glory, I looked up to realize the big, visible sign clearly stating local permit parking only.
Of which I was neither local, nor permitted.