Being in a foreign country and relying on public transportation, I appreciated receiving my daughter’s texted directions. You want to catch the southbound 44 on Robson and Burrard at 10:12. It will take you to the campus and you should get here around 10:45. My roommate and I will come and meet you. Her thoughtfulness came through the details.
She had taken the time to investigate my direct route to her university campus. I was to attend English class with her, another detail she had specially arranged for us. However, her follow-up text grazed the surface of my sensitive thin skin like that of a threatening bee buzzing by: Text if you get lost.
I was at the 44 bus stop early…privately smug about being early and preplanning exact coinage for the fare. Gazing out the bus window, I noted a couple of downtown shops, should we have time within the next couple of days. Text if you get lost…one bus ride, really? The bus stopped—downtown—and the driver spoke up as if making an announcement to all his passengers. Then he turned as if speaking directly to me, “Last stop, you have to get off the bus.” I turned around wondering if all the other riders were as confused as me. No one else was on the bus.
“The university…my daughter told me…one bus all the way.” The bus driver probably heard this a lot from parents who get lost.
“You have to get off. I should be back in 10 minutes and the driver issued me a transfer slip.”
I swatted at a bee, bought a cup of tea, and sat inside the coffee shop on alert for the reappearance of the driver. I even rearranged chairs to clear my exit path so that I could bolt for the next university bound bus.
I was lucky to have the first choice of seats when he returned to the bus. Again, I was the only passenger. My new driver friend and I rounded the corner where a couple dozen people waited at the first official pick up point for the southbound 44 headed directly to the campus. Lost? I don’t think so! I took the right bus…just in the wrong direction.
Upon arriving, I embraced our daughter on her own turf of higher learning and independence with melted pride. “What are you looking at?” she asked as she shifted away and clutched at her defenses again. I wanted to jump right back into close conversation again, like the kind we had started on our return flight from her first campus visit this past spring. Mother and daughter daring to entrust one another with private thoughts…compassionately holding one another’s disclosures free from judgment. But I withheld my desire for deeper conversation with my daughter. Stupid bee, go find a flower or another bee.
For the day-and-half wedged in between her classes, assignments, and text-messaging, a couple of bees hovered about us. I remained on alert for a bee attacking my vulnerabilities: Bee devoted. Bee competent. Bee understanding. Bee thorough. Bee patient. My daughter defended against her own threatening bee: Bee autonomous. Bee forthright. Bee resolute. Bee driven. Bee resolved. Weary from being held captive by a couple of bees, we eventually chose surrender. Not in defeat but with the kind of revived strength that Beth Moore describes. “We don’t want to protect ourselves out of our callings. We want to be set free…we are not the fragile flowers we’ve considered ourselves to be. As painful as the process may be, that which shatters our superficiality also shatters the fetters of our fragility and frees us to walk with dignity and might to our destinies.”
The night before we left, we swatted our respective bees over an extended dinner and conversation. After restorative sleep I eagerly accepted my daughter’s text invitation to meet her on campus before catching an early afternoon flight home.
I caught the right bus headed in the right direction. Clackety-clackety-clackety. My roller bags broadcast my arrival to the university campus and a smiling daughter. She unabashedly held our mother-daughter hug. And the two of us spent the next couple of hours—bee free—loudly rolling along the right pathways, through store aisles and into the café...in the same direction together.