Ferris Bueller's Day Off, 1986
Yesterday morning, I took our daughter to the dentist. As seems to have become our tradition, we had an adventure along the way.
First, some background: London is a city of railroad crossings. The one along our route was just before a stop sign. Since there's only room for one car behind the stop sign, I always come to a full stop before the tracks and wait for the car ahead to clear. Few things terrify me more than the prospect of sitting astride the tracks and having the bells ring, the arm come down, and a ten-million-kilogram freight train barrelling down on the car. No sirree.
So I stopped before the track and waited. And the bells began to ring. My first instinct was to stick the car in park because I knew we'd be there for a while. I also made a mental note to call the dentist's office to let them know we might be late.
Then I stopped caring about time when I heard squeals of excitement from the back seat. My nine-year-old daughter, normally so fashion-conscious, popular and cool, had up until today never been first in line at a train crossing. It was a new experience for our little girl.
So I opened all the windows, killed the CD, and we tried to predict which side the train would come from. She correctly guessed the left, then sat enthralled as a fast-moving train whipped by just a couple of meters in front of our bumper. We tried to figure out what was inside the sleek steel cargo carrying-cars, and eventually figured that it was carrying new cars. She marvelled at how, safely ensconced in the middle of a cushy minivan, she still could feel the ground shake.
Almost as soon as it began, it was over. The last car whooshed past and the arms went back up. The bells stopped ringing as the speeding train receded in the distance and we crossed the now-empty track. We excitedly chatted about trains for the rest of the trip and arrived at the dentist's office just on time.
I feel sorry for those who are in so much of a rush that they always cross ahead of the train. I feel privileged that I got to experience that small moment with a little girl who won't always be enthralled with the front row seat at a railroad crossing.
Your turn: What makes moments like this so meaningful? Is it possible to make magic out of the ordinary? How?