The sunshine radiated off of the winter wheat casting a golden glow around the entire interstate. The clouds weren't the normal flat missouri clouds, but the fluffy fat ones that my photography professor swears come around only once a season or so. He says when you see them you have mere minutes to grab a camera and get the perfect picture. I didn't want to risk seeing them disappear so instead I set the cruise control on my car and let the clouds glide by above me, oblivious to the world beneath them.
The drive was a pleasant one. It cleared my head and let me think about the enormous amount that is on my plate, but despite the pressures and stress, I kept coming back to what I had left.
I drove my car away from a friend's house as she tried to hold in the tears and emotion that were pouring through her soul. I had spent the afternoon in her chair while she cut my hair and discussed life. She had heard about my new plans, my graduation, even brought up to date on my social life. Most would assume that these conversations were surface level, but my friend was one who had known me before my hair needed cutting. Back in the days where it was wild and crazy. She knew me through my days of bangs and short hair, through the slick and straight hair that wouldn't hold any curl, the crazy mistake of a perm that turned into a jew fro, even with the wild bright red streaks from Louisiana. She did my hair for prom, she was at my graduation party, and at every holiday dinner, by now it's just easier to call her family.
After an hour of cutting and chatting, and another hour of styling she walked me to my car. She commented that I needed to go on a hot date with my new hair. I smiled nonchalantly as I dug for my keys. As I turned to go, she looked me in the eye and asked if she could ask me a question. Expecting something about my graduation or a current event I turned and saw the hurt flash across her eyes. She pushed it down a little further and struggled to get the words out. She was worried about who would take care of her daughter if something were to happen to my friend. Her daughter is in first grade this year, with big round steel-grey eyes and a ponytail the flounces all over the place, trying to keep up with its owner. In between the tears, my friend asked for me to make sure I would take care of her daughter if something were to happen, because everyone needs family to look after them, even if they are fifty.
I wrapped my arms around her and held her tightly. Her head barely reached the crest of my shoulders. Her tears soaked my collarbone as the words spun through my head. She knew I would take care of her daughter no matter what happened. She didn't even have to ask, but the verbal confirmation is what she needed to be able to walk back into her house and be strong for her daughter, as her life was falling apart.
I drove away in a contemplative mood, running through situation after situation in my head of the future. I've always said that this is a time in my life where I can be selfish. I get to choose what is best for me and make decisions that really only affect me and no one else. No family to take care of or someone who is relying on me, but I think I'm wrong. While we still have to be strong and go where we are called, I think we have to know who is waiting for us when we come home. They are the ones who are rooting for us, the ones who fight for us, and the ones who keep us strong. These are the type of people you never what to forget, especially in times like these.
The Kansas City skyline abruptly pulled me out of my thoughts, but I still can't help but wonder how a little grey-eyed seven year old fits into my new equation...