#37 In Roads-Pat Weeks

I’m hanging out, shopping with a friend in a housewares store when the sales lady comes up and excitedly starts telling us all about a new cookware product that serves many purposes. It’s an odd texture and feels weird so I’m kind of playing with it and she explains that it’s silicone. I joke that in a few years we’ll all be hearing about how they need to be banned because the thing is cancer causing. She gets defensive and says that no, silicone is made out of sand so they are natural. I crack up. Silicone implant jokes start flying. She walks away. I realize that maybe I’ve been rude so I ask if I can take her picture. She hesitantly agrees but wants to know what I will do with the image. For the first time I explain the entire project. She smiles. “Oh, so today you picked me? Cool! I’m actually very shy myself in social situations but not at work. I do fine here but have a hard time out with my husband sometimes. He’s in the wine industry so you can imagine what that’s like, meeting so many strangers. I sympathize with you.”

Pat shares that she’s a local but moved away to Seattle for a few years, had children, then came back to California. I tease her about abandoning her children in another state. She says that didn’t work since the 28 year old followed her and her husband back. He lives with them still. “What’s up with that,” the 59 year old mother of three jokes.

I congratulate her on her 33-year marriage and she shares in a lowered voice with bowed head, as if it’s a secret, that they actually lived together first. She has been with her husband for 41 years. I am duly impressed and observe that they literally grew up together, and how amazing that is. She smiles proudly and nods. My new friend seems genuinely interested in my story so I share a few details about life on the road before she tells about riding behind her husband on his Triumph when they were in their teens. “I never rode a motorcycle on my own, I can’t imagine what that must be like,” Pat says as she fidgets with the display. “That must be really amazing. What a cool adventure.” I point out that I can’t imagine being with the same man for 41 years and how cool that must be. She beams and with a deep sigh admits yes, that too is quite an accomplishment. She wishes me happiness and safe travels; I offer the same.


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