My fitbit fizzled. There’s no light, no “Way to go, Nancy,” no “Get moving,” no “Almost there. Just 2236 steps to your goal,” no “You’ve earned another badge!” At first, it was a hoot to banter with Katie and Tim about how I was dominating in steps calculated, a luxury of working on a college campus. I liked checking my progress on my 15,000 steps and the satisfaction of far surpassing that milestone. But I’ve been without Mr. F for three days now, and I don’t miss his electronic encouragement. I don’t miss the daily check to see if I’m wearing it. I don’t miss running back in the house because I forgot it. I don’t miss misplacing it, searching for it, and having to remember where I put it. I don’t miss having to keep track of one more thing. Now if only I can get this freedom from my cellphone.
Quivering, I answer, “St. T’s. St. Teresa’s. I lector at 8:00am mass.” I look at the clock on my dashboard: 8:00. “Valparaiso Police Department. Can I see your driver’s license and registration, please?” Why can’t I leave home on time? Hands shaking , I pass my license through the window. I reach across to the glove compartment as books slide to the passenger’s side floor. 2007. 2010. 2011. I know I have the new registration in there. The officer waits silently. Valparaiso University stickers embellish my windshield 2005-2007, 2006-2008, 2008-2010, 2010-2012, 2012- 2015. Evidence of years gone by in a flash. The van screams old, worn, and educated. Still I fumble, the officer’s stoic presence juxtaposed to my growing anxiety. As I open the bottom glove compartment, tampons tumble – don’t need those anymore, dental floss, Starbucks napkins, directions to the Walshes cottage in Culver. The clock reads 8:05. It’s only been five minutes? Relieved, I hand over the 2014 registration. “Wait here, ma’m.” Shame, remorse, grasping hands, stone face. Why can’t I just leave at 7:40? An extra mile or two? E-mail? Laundry? Dishwasher? Thank-you note? Dust on the dashboard, coffee stained carpet, tiny red dog hairs on the radio buttons. I have to clean this van. Swimsuit and towel hung on the back hook, briefcase stuffed with papers to be graded, cloth grocery bags strewn across the floor, Watson’s crate perched the rear space, VU nametags shoved between the front seats, Rosary beads ready in the console. “I’m going to give you a warning, Ma’m. You were going 38 in a 20. When that yellow light is flashing, you have to slow down. We love our children in Valparaiso, and we want to keep them safe.” Stunned, I whisper, “I won’t do it again. Thank you, Officer.” Flashing yellow? He pulls away as I look in the rear view mirror: Be the Difference – Marquette, Indiana University, Northwestern, Seattle University, Loyola, my children. I wonder, “Where am I headed?” Prison? The edge? Take a breath, make a pledge: Slow down. My babies grew up fast; make it so others can, too. Resolve to savor time; end the daily dash; delight in spare moments, in every millisecond. They all count.