I celebrate my 49th birthday this month. That leaves me only one year to learn everything I’m supposed to know by the half-century mark.
Unfortunately, I sometimes realize that I’m learning lessons I should already know.
For example, I learned years ago that it’s a bad idea to live due west of where you work. In 2006, I actually moved from the sleepy town of Washington, Mo. to the city of St. Louis so I didn’t have to squint into the sun driving to and from work, 45 minutes each way, every day. Being five minutes from my office was a nice bonus.
I also live five minutes from work now. But once again, I often spend those minutes with the sun in my eyes. And though five minutes of that is better than 45, Park Rapids giveth and Park Rapids taketh away.
The climate of Park Rapids is such that, about half of the year, that sun-kissed morning commute comes with a glistening layer of dew or frost. Even after using the wipers or a scraper, there are still leftovers that pick up the glare of the sun with eyeball-searing brilliance.
You’ll say, “That’s what your sun visor is for,” and you’d be right. But between the sun visor and the bottom of the windshield there is still plenty of room for a reflection off the top of the next car ahead to burn a blind spot onto my retina.
Then there’s the fog, which can diffuse the view out the windshield into a hazy glow. Sunlight and fog are a rotten gang, hanging out on street corners at 7:45 a.m. harassing people who are trying to mind their own business.
Even when the sky is clear, the temperature and humidity often conspire to fog up the inside of a windshield that was clean moments ago. Typically, this effect is timed to happen just as I turn into the sun.
A couple times, when my car’s air conditioning was on the fritz, I had to pull over and wait a bit before I could continue safely. I won’t say how many times I actually drove to work, navigating by the tail lights ahead of me and the traffic signals above.
Early morning drives can be a shadow-play of the harsh silhouettes of neighboring vehicles alternating with brightly reflective pavement.
Why is it that, 15 years after I learned my lesson in Washington, Mo., I have to relearn it now?
I’m almost a half-century old. My brain isn’t getting any more absorbent. But I guess I can call it “learning to live with less-than-ideal conditions” and try to improve what I can.