Trust and kindness

                                                                                                                                    Honeycomb ( wasps nest)

                                                                                                                                    Dirt road

                                                                                                                                    Bathing suit

                                                                                                                                    spearmint tea

As I drove, I quickly made my way down the rock filled bumpy dirt road, reminding myself to look out at the ponds and pine trees around me.  Reminding myself not to move so quickly that I missed what was around me and what I left New York for and what my spirit told me that I needed.  Not  to miss the invitation to return back to this land in New Mexico- by the land. But something was bothering me, I felt irritated, short wired and anxious; not only to get to Santa Fe in order to meet a friend at a coffee shop and work on a deadline, but I also felt anxious and in need to get some separation and space.  Something in my brain went to a conversation with a coworker- k***a and I began to fixate on and chew on her words - the ones that found to be condescending “ people can be nice and wear an American flag hat…”she had said.

I thought about how that was no news or revelation to me. having grown up in south carolina, I witnessed the many “nice” and “kind” white people who despite having confederate flags waving in front of their businesses, despite their family last names and the relations to slave owners, despite their voting practice were polite as pie. even friendly.  So I wondered why this person felt the need to inform me of such things and I wonder what it was that she was processing in that particular comment “ people can be nice annnnd wear an American flag hat….

I remembered that I was driving and I realized that I forgot my bathing suit, which brought me out of these thoughts for a moment, I quickly moved past the pause and proceeded to the exit gate.      I decided to pick up an inexpensive bathing suit at target and said to myself “ best not to turn back, best to keep things about this trip forward.” Once at the gate to exit, I quickly thumbed against the lock, entered the code and released the lock that was attached to the heavy and cold metal chain.  I drove through, stopped my car, got out, closed and locked the gate, got back into the car and drove off in the direction of 64 east.  Before making a left on the  main road, I stopped at the entrance of the campground and opened up my road snacks. I wasn’t sure if I was hungry or anxious. Or thirsty. I drank some of the coffee I packed, ate something sweet, ate the fried rice my coworker cooked, closed the tupperware that all of the food was contained in and drove towards Santa Fe, New Mexico.

I needed to get there to pick up some film and do some internet work at a cafe, I was driving fast, but not too fast and I took deep slow breaths of  the pine and took in the hills and mountains that I passed - I thought of the baby blue bird that flew into my car just a few weeks ago.  When it happened I cried and pulled my car over and moved its warm body out of the middle of the road and I  set the bird on the side of the road and I set some rocks and flowers on top and apologized to the bird. I came out of my thoughts and before I could swerve or stop I ran over a nail.  A moment of denial rushed over me and I said aloud to myself “ that better not be what i thought it was…”

I pulled over and indeed it was!

My back right tire was rapidly deflating, I was in a no cell service zone and over 50 miles away from a gas station and less than 5 miles away from the ranch. The one with the gate with the  dummy hanging from a noose.  With the sign that read “we do things the old way.” I got back into the car, maybe I could drive on the wheel and make it to the gas station? I drove for as long as I could before smelling the rubber from my tire burning, and I pulled over again.  I had never changed a tire before in my life.  In fact, just a few days prior I asked my coworker to show me how to change a tire. In that moment of reflection I remembered the power of my words and spells and laughed at myself thinking       “ you gotta work on how you ask for things, charmaine."

Since I was in a no cell service zone I knew that I would have to go the old fashioned route, no AAA in this situation.  I put on my blinkers, put my trunk up and started flagging down cars. I waved and waved, hoping that the grey truck I saw in the distance that seemed to be herding cattle would notice me and have the tools to change my tire and be kind. After about three minutes of flagging a gold Ford 150 stopped.

“can you help me? Do you know how to change a tire?” I asked,

“ I do know how, but I have a bad heart, so I can’t help you in that way today, can’t you call someone?”  he said

“theres no service right here,” I said.

“well I’m gonna keep driving up and call *55 as soon as I reach cell service and send someone to help you, I’m so sorry I cant get out and help you do you need any water?”  -

“no thank you I have plenty of water and snacks with me, thank you.”

“i’ll call someone as soon as I can for you,”

“thank you!”

As he drove off I immediately wondered what in me refused water and realized that I had no idea how long I would be out there.  I quickly had a thought that someone had to stop within the hour, at least someone decent had to.  I thought about what I meant by decent and as I continued to wave down cars I came to the conclusion that either someone decent or a racist murderer would stop. There was no in between in my thinking. I waved some more, noticing that no-one with New Mexico tags would even begin to slow down and stop, it was all out of towners slowing down, asking if I was alright and not too many at that.  The next car that stopped had California tags and before the person in the passenger seat could say she didn’t know how to change tires, the driver began driving off. I went and sat in my trunk because I felt my frustration and fear rising. I stood up and began waving again asking my guides, spirits, everyone, for help. I was feeling calm yet responding from a place of anxiety which was a strange sensation - like I was feeling something new yet holding on to something very old. As I tried to figure out this sensation, the grey truck in the distance turned and drove toward me.  This is it, this is the help that I asked for.  The driver - a 65-70 year old white man with a marine corp hat slowed down, asking me what I need -

“my tire is flat and I need help changing it,” I said.

After a bit of grumbling to himself and his partner in the car he said to me “ alright I can help you , let me pull over.” As he pulled over I saw that he had texas plates. I felt anxiety about who this person was, and also felt that this was the person helping me and I better accept it. As he approached my car, he read my license plates and he exclaimed, “New York!, you a long way from home girl.” The combination of the “girl” and the Texas plates made me cringe yet I noticed his Marine Corps hat and made conversation  

“I’m from Beaufort, did you pass through Parris Island?”  I asked

“Nope, I went through San Diego.”

“oh Okay okay,”

“you got a jack?” He asked

“ no, I don’t”  I said.

“no jack, alright let me go to my car and get one.” He said.

He hobbled across the street to his wife who was leaning against the truck in sun shades and eating snacks.  I heard her say “ you alright baby, whats going on with the car?  You have the jack in there?” He came back with a jack in his hand and began the process of lifting my car, but the bolts on the tire wouldn’t let up - he named a piece of equipment I hadn’t ever heard of and said it was back in his car and he had to get it so that he could help release the bolts and take the tire off.  He went across the street to his car and then he came back with a large rusted piece of metal in his hands. He banged that metal banged it across another piece of metal that was attached to the bolts in the tire and the bolts started to loosen.  He pulled the shredded tire off of the car. My car was up on the jack and the tire was off.

“want me to hand you the spare?” I asked

“yes, please hand it to me, will you?” He said.

I detected a Southern but, not Texas accent, I began to wonder if he were creole and from Louisiana, he most certainly could be and my feelings told me that this was perhaps someone Black?   I handed him the spare. He lined the spare tire up with the bolt holes and began trying to fit it on the wheel.

“car needs to go higher and my jack won’t go higher.  Let me go get a jack that’ll go higher…” he said this to himself.

I watched him cross the street again and climb into the back of his truck. I could hear paper , plastic and metal moving as he rummaged through his belongings looking for another car jack.  I quickly opened the passenger door of my car and reached into the glove compartment, I had just gotten paid a little bit of tip money for work and was grateful that I could offer something for the help.  I pulled out a 20 and put it in one pocket and a 50 and put it in the other.  Knowing that he was Southern, I knew that offering too much money could be rude, but that I really wanted to offer something , so I decided I’d know which pocket to reach into when the time came. He came back across the street with a second jack. “can I help with anything?” I asked

“yes, come down here and slide that jack over a bit towards the other jack,” he said.

I followed his instructions. “ yes there okay, now take the other one, the one right there, take it out, carefully, okay now.”

My curiosity would not subside - “ you from texas?” I asked “sounds like you from Louisiana?!!”

“nope, I live in Texas, I am from Trinidad and Tobago, I was born there! “ he said, with a knowing feeling, that I was trying to sense where he was from. I said “WHAT,” he said “yup, born there.”

I said, “ what’s your name?”



I flashbacked to every single dark skinned Maurice I knew in middle school and the Maurice I had a crush on.

“yea, Maurice, you know that song?”

“no, what song?”

I now cant remember the name of the song he told me because I was in such shock about how this was all unfolding. His wife came over. I said “and where are you from?”  She said “im a colorado girl, you know where he’s from, did he tell you?”

I said “he just did, what’s your name?”


“ Ahhh maurice and marilyn” I said.

I then looked over at maurice and asked,“may I offer you something please?” He said,

“no thank you, everyone needs a bit of help sometime.”

Not accepting that response, I said to marilyn, can I offer him something, she said “ I don’t know ask him, he’s the one doing the work.” I moved away fromt he subject of money and asked, “what are you two doing out here, where are you going?” Marilyn said, we are on vacation and she tole me that they had just driven through Taos and were driving across New Mexico to go camping.
Marilyn  seemed worried about Maurice as she turned to him, she inspected his breathing rhythm as he worked on replacing the tire -and said to him

“ hey, you alright?”

“i’m just fine.” He said

“ alright now…” she said

The sky began to darken and storm clouds moved over accompanied by heavy thunder.  I thought to myself “ please let us all be in our cars and safely on our way before the rain.” Maurice lifted my car about five more inches, slipped the spare tire on and began the process of tightening the bolts. I felt  a bit of drizzle on my left cheek.  He quickly tightened the bolts on the tire, the final step in changing my tire. Maurice  stood up with the jack and looked at me.  

I said “ you are my angel thank you so much.”

He smiled and said “no thank you”

I said “are you sure I can’t offer you anything?”

He said, “you can offer me a hug.”  And I did.

He and marilyn started the process of putting their belongings back into their car and began to cross the street . As they crossed  the street I opened the back door of my car and I reached into my backseat and opened a box that I thought had tea in it. I felt that I wanted to offer them some tea. I opened the box and found some of my writings and a few of my photographs and grabbed those, I ran to the other side of my car and opened the back door opened a box and pulled out a bag of tea.  I opened the pouch and said “nettles!” to myself, I pulled out a second bag, opened and sniffed “spearmint!”

Marilyn and Maurice came back for their second jack and to say goodbye.  

“i know you said not to offer you anything and I know its not too much but I wanted to give you this, its some of my writing and some tea and twenty dollars, the nettle is good for iron and feeling grounded, it’ll make you feel so strong and the spearmint will lift your spirits. Will you take this?”

They both looked at me with deep kindness, I saw the smile creases around their eyes and both Marilyn and Maurice’s faces transformed,.  I could see and feel the gratitude deep within their eyes. They said thank you.They both reached to me for a hug.  Marilyn said “ you know my son drives a semi truck and I always tell him to have his equipment on him because you never know when you’ll get a flat” she said “ be careful out here, really.”

“ I am so grateful to you both, because you never know who is going to stop.” I said

“that’s right.” Marilyn said

I reached down to my feet to pick up their second jack to hand to them, when I looked inside there was a honeycomb in there. I said to them both, “look!” Maurice grabbed it and put it to the side of the road, they said bye and crossed the street,

We both yelled to each other “travel safe!”

I reached over to the ground, picked up the honeycomb and speaking to the honeycomb I  said “thank you” and put the honeycomb/ nest in my trunk.  I got back in the car, in the drivers seat, turned on the car and looked back in my rear view mirror waiting for Maurice and Marilyn to pull off.  They didn’t not until

I honked my horn, rolled down my window and waved good bye.