John has a car and offers to drive home from grad class every Tuesday and Wednesday night for three months. There are four of us for a twenty-minute drive home, and I quickly come to love the car rides and the camaraderie. I don’t say so until one of us says this is a highlight of their week and we laugh and someone else says, “really though” and we come to the consensus that this is one of those times you find something special in the ordinary. Even writers don’t want to be the first to admit these things.
Early in the semester, we pass a Checkers and John says, “That’s actually a really good Checkers,” and we laugh at the absurdity of a unique chain restaurant.
Sometimes, Alex and John discuss post-colonial literature and I remind myself to read Americanah as soon as possible. Sometimes, John and Catherine, who work at the same school, discuss shared students and colleagues.
Before leaving Brooklyn College, we always wander the streets of Flatbush and have the “where did we park?” conversation.
Alex recounts a recent date as we pass its location.
Catherine suggests we do a summer writing group.
John stops at a traffic light and asks if anyone else is getting “weird traffic vibes.”
Alex mistakenly refers to her students as “my friends.”
If all else fails, we laugh about things our professor said in class, complain about work, and discuss the pros and cons of being high. The rare silences are filled by talk radio no one listens to and the glow from all-night Laundromats and Dominican hair salons.
On our last car ride home, we pass the intersection with the Checkers. “Take a picture,” John says, “it will be important later.” We drive by and it’s boarded up. Of course it means nothing, but I still keep the photo.
One day, we go for drinks after class, and at some point I decide that I am comfortable enough to share that I am a secretly a Christian. “I mean I voted for Hilary Clinton and everything,” I rush to say, “I was just raised a certain way and I believe things that I think are real.” A couple more drinks and I would be talking about how I think there is too much beauty in the world for there not to be a God, and how I think you should love everyone and I don’t think I’m better than anyone else. Luckily, I am comforted by smiles that indicate I am understood.
It’s late when I go home and I’m thinking about a God who knows what will really be important later. I have a feeling it will be the things we barely notice.
Caroline Higgins (’11) lives in Brooklyn, New York, where she spends the vast majority of her time teaching English Language Arts. You may also find her at barre exercise classes or playing (and losing) at bar trivia. She continues to be inspired by the energy and diversity of New York City and the beauty of that certain slant of light.