I was driving home from shooting a wedding the other night, it was close to 11pm and I was sitting at a red light thinking about how tired and burnt out I was. I remember thinking about how my back and shoulders were sore and waiting for the light to turn green. I looked over and through my driver’s side window, I saw a young girl sitting in the left turn lane at the red light next to me. She was by herself in an older car, maybe a family handmedown. I watched her as she looked down at her phone, her face being illuminated with the blue glow from the screen and she smiled. As she held her phone with both hands a huge smile came across her face and I watched her as she turned her head down and closed her eyes for a split second. She laid her phone down in the passenger seat and put both hands on the wheel, leaned forward, and let out a big deep breath. It could have been a multitude of things, a text from that boy she was waiting to hear from saying I miss you, a funny picture from her best friend, a message from her mom with a simple, “I love you, be careful driving”? We are going to ignore the fact that she was looking at her phone while in the drivers seat. Any other day I feel pretty strongly about no phone while driving but thats not the point this time. There is a bigger purpose to my story. The point is, this moment I witnessed was something that stopped my brain in it’s tracks. This made me feel small and hopefull and inspired all at the same time. My mind forgot about the complaining thoughts of tiredness, and work, and my silly sore shoulders and gave my attention to sharing this moment with this stranger.
It seemed to happen in slow motion for me, we seemed to sit there in that intersection forever with the red light flooding into our cars and covering our faces. I felt lucky to catch such a moment. The small moment to me was a big moment to her. This moment that made her smile sitting at that red light in the intersection alone in her old car. It reminded me how big life is. She is experiencing something in her life and going through things in her days and nights just like everyone else. Completely unrelated to me and my life and things I will never know about where happening in the car just feet away from me, like a separate world inside her car. We have all had a similar moment as she was having. It could have been a variety of things that she was feeling when she let out that breath. Relief, happiness, excitement, hope, whatever it was it was good and it made me smile for her.
I have been that teenage girl, driving around at night by myself to clear my head. I have been that girl heading home late from work or a friends house with just my radio and the street lights to keep me company; wondering if that guy was going to call or getting a call from my best girlfriend that made me smile. I remember nights driving around wondering if I was going to find out where I was going. At the end of the day all of those things are just a desire to be accepted. Acceptance is huge and I think everyone is striving for some form of it. Whether it be from a love interest, a friendship, an employer, your clients or customers, or a significant other. No matter how confident or self assured you are, everyone is searching for acceptance from someone. That fact is what made me feel so connected to this girl.
This moment may not have been as significant as I interpreted it to be but it was enough to evoke emotion from both of us and it made time stand still for me. It made me think so hard. It made me feel lucky to be where I am, it made me realize what I have been through and how far I have come since I was that girl in that car. I no longer have to wonder if that guy will call, I will be taking his last name next year. I no longer have worries about where I will go or what happens after highschool and for all of that, I am grateful. However my thoughts and wonders have not gone away, instead they have evolved into something very different. Where am I going with my career? What more can I do to satisfy my creative drive and be more of the individual I know I am? How do I make myself happy and find time for the adventure I know I need? How do I improve myself to be the best friend and wife I can be? I haven’t figured it all out and I am a LONG way from finding out where I am headed. In a way thats exactly how I like it. I know though, that I am who I am from being that hopeful girl sitting in the drivers seat at night with bright eyes and an open heart.