You stood there on the corner looking down at your phone, watching me approach on GPS. It must have been a few seconds behind because I sat there watching you watching the virtual me. Then you looked down the street behind me as if I were just pulling up. I rolled my window down. You looked over at me, then down at your phone, then down the street again and back over at me. I sat up from my comfortable driver’s slouch and gave you a friendly wave. Raising your eyebrows, you mouthed, “Oh,” smiled, and skipped awkwardly across the street to me. This clumsy version of the ridesharing introduction — with its abrupt pauses and awkward postures — was a refreshing sign of its earlier promise to shake things up socially, and it always made way for a strong pony ride.
You had just locked up the mini-mart for your father who was back home, “the homeland,” where he used to be a general practitioner. You held a small, white paper bag with a twine handle. It looked like a gift bag. Inside was a toothbrush for your wife. The two of you lived in the States, but in a “real city.” She was accompanying you here for the month to run your father’s store while he was away. You held up the receipt for the toothbrush. “My father is very precise. Everything has to be accounted for.”
“If I had grown up the child of a physician or healer, I might have decided to run a store instead.”
You were studying an ancient form of healing. You explained that “almost every other generation” your family practiced various forms of healing and medicine, going so far back that “all of this was probably wild then,” you reflected looking at the city blocks go by.
You grew up working in your father’s store, but, “I felt like I was in a box all day.” Now you prefer to work “outside of the box.” You grew up confused about your father’s decision to leave his country and start all over again here. Later, you realized that it wasn’t about him, and that “There’s no such thing as starting all over again.” His decision was made “in a long chain of others’ career decisions —” you paused, humming, and then continued, “ones made before and ones that will continue to be made.” You mulled over the hypothetical of growing up the son of your father the physician, not the storekeeper. “In that case, I might have decided to run a store instead of practice healing.” Your father seemed to know “the order of operations” when it came to raising children to be one thing or another, and thinking out loud about what your own kids might make of their lives some day, you uttered a foreign phrase roughly translated to, “It is already decided.”