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Tuesday, September 1, 2015

My Golden Ticket

I knew Ben Carson was coming to town and wanted to hear him speak.  I have a lot of respect for the man; he’s an overcomer and I’m greatly inspired by his story of boy living in poverty to becoming one of the top neurosurgeons in the nation so I made it a priority. It was 6:30pm.  I woke my 3 month-old baby Canyon from his late, late afternoon nap and started the drive into Phoenix during the end of rush hour.   I left 15 minutes late so I was already stressed for time.  I drove into Phoenix just as it was getting dark and started to look for parking. I wasn’t exactly sure where I was going.  Downtown has a lot of one way streets and is unfamiliar to me.  I found a parking garage near the Phoenix Convention Center and it was $12 to park.  I reached into my wallet and handed the attendant my credit card.  

“Cash only,” he said.  

That morning I had given the last of my cash to my kids for lunch money.  

“There is an ATM over on Third St.,” he said.  

I backed my large SUV into reverse and slowly moved out of the parking garage, careful not to hit the line of cars already forming behind me.  I wasn’t sure which way to go when I say another parking garage advertising $5 to park.  I knew I had enough change at the bottom of my purse so I pulled into the lane.  The cashier patiently waited as I grabbed change from my purse and the glove compartment of the car.  I was like a squirrel looking for acorns at this point, searching under the floor mats and in any nook and cranny I could find.  I produced a handful of coins, mostly pennies.  The cashier patiently counted out my money.  I knew I was short but hoped if I didn’t say anything she might come up with a different amount.  In the mean time, my baby was starting to fuss. I’d already been in the car for over ½ an hour.  

“You only have $3.85,” the clerk said, jolting me out of my stressed state of mind.  

I would blame my irrational behavior on hormones, but I’m a horrible liar.  Truth is I was frustrated. For some reason, I felt like I might cry and just like that, I was crying in this sort of pity cry. Great!  I felt sorry for my self.  

“I don’t mean to cry,” I said to the clerk.  “but I have a new baby in the car, I don’t know where an ATM is and I’m late to hear Dr. Carson speak.”  She peered inside the back window and looked at my fussy baby.  Her face turned compassionate and she motioned toward the garage.  

“Just go on in, it’s all good.”  

I never intended asking her for a favor and quite honestly felt like a great big loser, but I took her kind gesture and thanked her profusely as I rolled up the window.  I drive a large SUV and there was a part of me that wasn’t even certain my car would fit, but I drove down into that parking garage and tears swelled in my eyes even more than before.   Part of it was my pride as I knew I'd taken advantage of the clerk.  Seriously, she was just a college student and because of my pity party which was now at the price tag of a indebted whopping $1.15 she’d broken some sort of parking attendant "code of conduct".  This whole night was turning out to be a giant mistake.  Still, I found a parking spot and turned off the car.  Now what?  My baby was crying and I still didn’t know where I was going.  It was dark outside but even darker in the belly of the parking garage. I opened my door as two men walked by.  I mustered up my courage and grabbed the only weapon I had; my diaper bag.  Why hadn’t I invited anyone to come with me?  Coming alone was not smart.  I walked around to the other side of the car and opened the back door.  Inside, my darling baby had stopped crying and was curiously watching me.  His innocent expression filled me with such love.  All he wanted was me.  Suddenly, I didn’t feel alone.  I had Canyon.  I was so overcome with gratitude for his companionship I started crying all over again. 

“Come here little guy,” I said as I took him into my arms.  “I’m so glad you’re here,” and I hugged his little body into mine.  

His familiar smell, the gentle way his hands reached into my hair and the closeness to which I held him was so comforting.  I literally cried on his tiny shoulder and thanked him for being there with me.  Once I started feeling better I positioned him into my baby Bjorn and took the stairs out of the parking garage onto the city streets of Phoenix.  A man walked by and stopped to comment on and look at the baby.  

“Do you know where the convention center is?” I asked after I'd answered his questions of the baby's age and name.  

“Sure, I was walking there to see Dr. Carson,” he said.  

So, we walked together as the light rail whizzed past us.  I thanked him as I entered the over-sized convention room holding 12,000plus people.   

The energy was amazing and immediately all the efforts I’d made to attend were worth it.  Dr. Carson’s heartfelt speech was beautiful.  His speech lasted another 25 minutes when he ended with a few Q&A’s.  The crowd started to disperse, but I was just getting started. Are you kidding?  Getting me downtown was like getting a race boat off the dock and into the water just to let it idle.  I had so much more to offer than turning around and driving back home.  I was energized.  While most people were leaving, I noticed a small line forming near the stage.  Was it possible to meet Dr. Carson?  I had to find out.  
I’m not sure how but many in the crowd of 1,000 people or so made way so the baby and I could be near the front and suddenly Ms. Carson reached over to me so she could see the baby.  

“He’s adorable,” she said.  “I miss my grand kids,” and she reached in to hug on my little boy.  I asked for a photo and I kissed her on the cheek.  I literally felt a transfer of energy.  Candy Carson is absolutely beautiful inside and out and I could feel her vivacity immensely.  I could barely believe what had happened and finally turned to head back to the parking garage. The baby slept the entire ride home, making the journey home much less eventful then my earlier experience.  

My baby had been my golden ticket to an incredible experience.  Because of him I'd been able to park, find the convention center and meet Candy Carson but most important was when he offered me his companionship when I felt all alone.  He is my little person.  He needs me and I need him.  He’s coming everywhere with me forever and I’ve already told him he’s not allowed to ever grow up.  
We’ll see if he follows that little rule or not.