Last week Jon and I set out to try to spend some time together that wasn’t with the kids, or at work, or in a meeting somewhere. It was Monday night and our day-time housekeeper decided to stay overnight so we took advantage of the unexpected childcare. With smiles and light hearts we said good-bye to the kids and jumped in the car.
That was our first mistake.
We got on the road and headed toward one of the movie theaters in the city. As we merged into traffic, it immediately stopped. Completely. And didn’t move. At all. We looked at each other, and the time, and assured ourselves that surely we could make the 6:30 movie starting in 45 minutes. After all, we only had 4 miles to go.
I laugh as I think about how naive we were. We had stars in our eyes thinking we just might be free for an evening.
We were fools.
The traffic inched along at a painfully slow pace. We realized we were going to miss the movie, but we couldn’t get off the road so we had to sit in the traffic, and sit, and sit. We also realized that it was payday and remembered that everyone was suddenly Christmas shopping and we really should have left for the 6:30 movie around noon if we actually wanted to make it. Hindsight is always 20/20.
As “luck” would have it, we searched online and found a movie playing at 8:00 at another mall back toward our house. We sat in traffic to go around the traffic circle, and joined in the line of traffic creeping back to where we had just come from. The phrase “exercise in futility” kept running through my head.
As 8:00 approached we arrived outside of the other mall, and saw that the police weren’t letting anyone turn left into the mall parking garage. I guess they thought it would help traffic flow? Well, it didn’t help us. I watched our destination glide by, mocking me, as we were directed to a side street where we were greeted with rows of brake lights.
(Just thought I’d add that there was a shifty-eyed guard with his hand on his gun nervously looking up and down the street which had no foot traffic, but tons of traffic-traffic. We never figured out what had him spooked, and I’m probably better off for not knowing.)
Finally we made it back to the second mall, parked the car, and rushed up to the theater since it was getting late and we wanted to buy our tickets and grab some snacks. As we stepped up to the counter, we realized that the online movie listings are basically just lies meant to frustrate innocent people such as ourselves. No 8:00 movie…just a super late showing hours from now.
The mall stores were all closing so there was nothing to do but head to the food court. We decided we were too exhausted to wait for the later movie time, so we did the next best thing…we ate at Taco Bell. Don’t judge us, Taco Bell is still kind of a new thing to El Salvador. If you can’t eat movie theater popcorn for dinner, you have to improvise, right???
We could have been annoyed and frustrated, but we just had to laugh because this is our life. Nothing ever goes the way we plan it. We are always caught in traffic. Sometimes it’s literal, and sometimes it involves long and pointless paperwork, or processes, or endlessly journeying with someone. So many days it looks like we will never get to where we want to go. But we had some great talks that night, and remembered again that we just can’t plan things the way we want to all the time.
The truth is, we wouldn’t have it any other way.