May 2, 2011

To the Stranger Who Left the “You A**hole” Note on my Windshield.

Hello, Dear Friend,

We haven’t met yet, in person, but I got your letter.

I came out after work to find your hand-written note on my car. I was a little excited to see it, I admit, all folded up and tucked, so sweetly, under my windshield wiper. I was delighted, actually, because first, it was clearly not a ticket. Second, I thought it might be from a friend who recognized my car. Or from a client who just had to express, surreptitiously, how much my work had affected him. Better yet, maybe it was from a stranger who had become totally smitten while he watched me park. Who else, I reasoned, would know that I was here?

I opened it, your letter—it was on the kind of paper we used in grade school with the blue lines—marked up strongly with your black pen. I read those words and had a short, sweet moment when I saw them, but did not yet fully comprehend them.

In that brief moment, I was touched by a total stranger, holding your words in my hand, feeling the scrawl of your letters.

Even though you did not know me, somehow you wanted to touch me anyway, on that beautiful Spring afternoon.

It was like holding your heart, if only for an instant.

You shared a lot with me, in those few words. I remember them like they were yesterday: “You Asshole, park more than two inches from my bumper! I can hardly get out.” You did get out, I noticed. And maybe—I realized sickeningly—maybe, you had to wait for the car in front of you to move.

It was kind of a love note, you and I meeting so unexpectedly. First, you gave me valuable and heartfelt advice, and you were right. I didn’t check how much room your car had on the other side. It was a tight space, and I was just happy at getting my little RAV 4 into it—me, so proud of being such a fabulous parallel parker to haven gotten into it at all (I am blushing). I must sheepishly admit that I never actually imagined how it would be for you, in 45 minutes, when you returned from…wherever. I can only apologize sincerely to you now, for my self-centeredness.

You also shared with me—in our brief correspondence—so much of your inner world. I see you now as a man (forgive me, I just assumed, from the handwriting), a man who wants to be treated with respect. Someone who needs to be acknowledged and is not getting that in his relationships, and his life. You let me in, in a way that few men have. Your vulnerability was quite touching.

And then there was learning your whole history—through my imagination. I envisioned the world that you grew up with—not so dissimilar to my own—where you just wanted to be cared about. Why is it that kids could laugh at me, disregard me, and just not care—all because I was the “new kid”? Why is it that my first crush at 13, Mark Coffman, never even knew I existed? I remember putting anonymous letters into his locker, shamelessly professing my love.

Then there was my second-grade teacher on my first day at a new school, putting me in front of the class to sing the National Anthem, solo. I didn’t know the words, and she shamed me in front of everyone for not being “patriotic.”

And finally, there was that horrific night in high school when the three people I had counted as my best friends laughed at me as I continually stopped on the “wrong song” while cruising the radio dial trying to find the right one.

My dearest friend. I am so sorry. I had no intention of parking you in. I hope that it didn’t delay you too much. Had I thought of it, I would have checked to see how much room you had, you know, on the other side of your car. I never meant to hurt you, or to insinuate that you weren’t important to me. I just got caught up in being on-time for work and—honestly—for being such a bad-ass parallel parker. It really was a tight space.

Perhaps one day we will meet, face to face, and although I won’t know that it’s “you,” it will be like a little chunk of unfulfilled karma blossoming between us. Even now I can sense that day hurtling toward us when we will meet for the first time, so unexpectedly—and somehow, we will just know.

And—just to be totally revealed—please don’t, like, stalk me or fire-bomb my house or anything. My letter here is actually sincere—we are not so different, I think. But we might need to get to know one other a bit more, you know, before we can trust each other fully.

all my love to you, dearest,

(Kristin Luce)

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