The friends walked behind the bar, arriving at the car. They climbed into Todd’s black SUV, as Jason didn’t feel comfortable behind the wheel. He had drunk his share on this particular evening. Todd, having his normal light night of drinking, drove his friend home. The conversation over Anna continued, as they drove through the empty streets. Todd discussed his discomfort around giving away his phone number. Given the circumstances of the previous night, he still didn’t feel good about the action. Jason took his usual approach to the situation, speaking on what he knew to be true, presenting his logical conclusion. Jason gave his perspective, that his friend had done nothing inappropriate by providing Anna his number. He calmly reminded Todd of Lindsey’s trip with her boyfriend. If she was getting on a plane the next morning with another guy, how was Todd in the wrong. After all, Todd had simply given away his phone number. He pondered the statement, as they drove into the cold night.
There seemed to be truth in Jason’s conclusions. As Todd wondered to himself about misjudging the circumstances surrounding his relationship with Linsey. They wound through the hills above town. Reaching the home of Jason’s parents not long after departing from the Dragon. It was an easy place for Jason to spend the night, saving Todd from driving the hour round trip to his home. Todd pulled into the relatively short driveway of the medium sized country house. They had a landscaped yard for kids to play and family barbeques to be enjoyed. Though it wasn’t Jason’s childhood home, Todd had spent plenty of evenings gathered at the warm place. The two childhood friends said goodnight, planning to speak again in the next couple days. Todd watched his buddy open the front door and disappear behind it, before pulling out of the driveway. He didn’t live far from the parents of Jason. He wound through some backroads and within minutes pulled into the garage of his townhome.
Like Todd had told Anna earlier that evening, driving was one of his easiest tasks each day. He also felt driving to be one of the most pleasurable activities. However, many times he had been surprised by the reaction of others, upon revealing his ability to drive. As he would wonder what had people thinking he couldn’t drive. It rarely crossed his mind that cerebral palsy could have hampered his ability to get behind the wheel. While growing up, Todd found himself operating anything drivable he could. He grew up around golf, so the golf cart was one of the first driving experiences he had. The first time behind the wheel of a golf cart always brought a smile to his face, as he almost drove it straight into his father. Then, there was the occasional opportunity to drive a boat. Usually the boat of one of his parents’ friends. It was another chance to operate something motorized. Learning how to control speed, steering, and direction. The opportunities also helped him work on reaction times. All the practice leading to ultimately learning how to drive a car. Once inside, he climbed the two flights of stairs before reaching the pillow. After a night like this one, sleep would not come easy.
Sleep didn’t come easy, while tossing around the conversation with Jason. It was difficult to disagree with the points his friend was making. Todd could easily be hoping for something with Lindsey that just wasn’t going to happen. Meanwhile, there was someone who had walked up and been interested in getting to know him at the least. The situation was unique for Todd and he wondered about navigating unfamiliar territory. He had never really been the kind who dated multiple people at one time. He didn’t want to get involved in a complicated situation that could follow. While making a decision in his head, some peace came to his mind. Todd closed his eyes for the final time. The tossing and turning slowed as sleep began taking over his night. The next time Todd looked at his nightstand clock, the neon numbers read 7:00 am. It was his natural time of crawling out of bed to start the day. Todd pushed open the drapes, which held the exterior neighboring lights out of his room. The sun was still below the horizon on the mid-winter morning. He meandered into the master bathroom to shower off the previous night and began the day anew.
As Todd had begun many mornings, he went for a drive. The morning journey found him bending around two lane country roads. After twenty minutes of weaving through corners, Todd would find himself in line for coffee. The sun began to rise halfway into his drive. Todd looked around at the sun gleaning off the frozen fields. He was immersed in a valley of family farms. The three small towns that spotted the valley were one stop light kind of towns. Todd enjoyed living in such a town, where neighbors said hello, and the feeling of community surrounded the residents. Even with relative close proximity to a major city, the city provided the small-town atmosphere. Todd was comfortable in the place he was choosing to live. He remembered looking for his first home a few years back. The decision had dwindled down to a couple options. One townhome would have provided more of a bustling atmosphere, closer to the center of suburban sprawl, while the home he occupied was across a valley of farmland from the nearby cities. Todd entered into another small town along his morning drive for coffee, as he turned up the radio of the SUV.
He traveled slowly through the quiet city and over a small river. The bridge gave way to the two-lane road weaving along more farmland. After ten scenic minutes and another town, he pulled into the coffee stand. At 8:00 am on a Sunday morning the wait was just a few cars. He filed into the lineup and turned down the radio. Reaching across the center consul Todd grabbed his phone from the passenger seat to kill time. He checked the emails, nothing interesting, as a couple from random stores populated the screen. Before long the line of cars had retrieved their morning coffee and he pulled up to capture his cup. Todd’s window had already been lowered as he rolled up to the opening. He exchanged greetings with the ladies inside the building, three of them seemingly working around one another. They already had his coffee ready, Todd ordered the same iced-mocha with each stop. He was required to maneuver his body and reach with his right hand to grasp the plastic cup. Cerebral palsy caused his left to be basically unusable in the situation, which seemed to be the hand most people used. Todd would experience challenge even reaching with his right arm. Trying to judge the distance of the reach, keeping his hand steady, and finding an easy way to grab the cup. It didn’t always work to perfection, but the ladies inside knew him and seemed to help if they could. Over time they had begun handing the coffee to Todd by holding the top, maybe noticing it was easier for him the grasp the bottom of the cup. The mocha made it safely into the SUV, Todd wished the ladies a nice day, and off he went into the Sunday sunshine.
Todd turned right out of the stand to enjoy a different route home. Heading out of town he headed east toward a larger city. Todd would pass one of the best golf courses in the state. An exclusive club, with a few holes slightly in view from the highway. It reminded him of his dream to someday be a member of an area golf club. But, on that day, the dream felt distant. Passing by the course gave him a glimmer of hope of days to follow. Another few minutes on the highway and Todd would turn right. The off-shooting wound up one of the many hills in the area. Down the other side, he would be dropped back into the valley of farmland from which he came. The SUV shot around the corners, as it climbed the hill, then back down again, handling more like a sports car than a sports-utility-vehicle. The road exited the hill across another river, Todd pulled to a stop sign, and turned left back into the sleepy farm town he had seen just twenty minutes prior. He rolled through town with slow care and within a couple minutes was out the other side. He took another left to drive a less populated path, enjoying more of the family farms in the valley.
Traveling the valley floor caused his mind to wonder. Over a bridge, the road tilted up another hill. There was a turn off at the top. The vantage point he used on many morning drives. It overlooked an old dairy farm. Today the farm had been converted to a camp for youth. He turned into the gravel parking lot sitting on a bluff. His mind foggy from a lack of sleep and unfamiliar events. Todd was seeking some clarity. Was the night before showing him a positive new road, one he should wonder down, or was there trouble up ahead. He wondered what the immediate future would bring. There was little doubt someone new had entered into his world. Jason had his opinions and seeming attraction toward Anna. So, why seemingly nudge him in the direction of Anna? How would Lindsey return from her trip and why the mixed signals from Jason, who knew his friend’s history with Lindsey. Todd pulled his coffee from the center consul and opened the car door. The cold air delivered a refreshing sting. He walked to the edge of the gravel turnout to enjoy the view and ponder the questions.