We lost the car. We didn’t mean to. In fact, both Ken and I distinctly remember me writing down the number of the row where we parked ten days beforehand, but when I pulled out the parking ticket, it was blank, as if I used invisible ink. Ken thought the car might be on row #7, and I was leaning toward row #4, no matter that each row was more or less a double row that stretched dozens of cars on for blocks.
With heavy backpacks and much heavier suitcases on wheels, plus a weighty purse, and a cpap machine for good measure, we embarked on the journey to find the car. We had just emerged from a plane, a small tube of pressurized air where we were flung through space at great speeds for four hours, and we hadn’t slept so well in the last few night, making the search even more challenging. But it was lovely out — overcast, cool-ish, and breezy, and as I later told Ken, this was a good way to get a long hike in.
How long was the hike? While it didn’t seem it would take so long, we marched up and down rows of cars for close to two hours before calling the parking department and begging someone to drive us around. We both had a vague sense of having parked on one end of the lot, but it was hard to remember which end, and this was a lot that held over 5,000 parking spaces. I counted 9 Honda Fits, the car were were searching for although none of the counted ones were ours, while pressing the car key’s panic button to make our car call and response with me, but it was not within reach as we shlepped our stuff to tarnation and back.
In the middle of it all, I looked up and saw a license plate that said, “Beauty.” While there’s nothing normally beautiful about rows of lonely cars, mourning their traveling companions, the license plate stopped me for a moment. I looked up and saw a tree in the distance. I felt the wind across my bare arms. I adjusted the backpack to shift more of the weight to my hips, grateful I was strong enough to search the lot, and I nodded in agreement with that license plate.
By the time the parking truck arrived to drive one of us, me it turned out, it only took a few minutes to find our car, which was parked a mere ten feet from where we gave up on finding it by ourselves, in row #3. From there, we were homeward bound, knowing it’s never exactly a blessing to lose your car and have to haul a bunch of heavy stuff through a parking lot for hours, but wherever we are, lost or found, there’s always the blessing of life. And that’s its own kind of beauty.