You’re stuck in vacation traffic and your kids are going crazy in the backseat. Now is about the time when you start peering into the other cars, wondering what it would be like to just step out of the driver’s seat and climb into someone else’s life and drive away. The car to your left is a beat-up old station wagon with an elderly couple inside and nobody in the backseat. The car to your right is a newish mini-SUV and behind the wheel is the woman you almost left your wife for ten years ago.
It’s her. It’s Michelle and she’s got a husband and kids. You had just proposed to your wife when Michelle started working freelance at your firm. You thought nothing could come between you and the woman you loved, which is ironically the way you justified your suddenly falling into bed with Michelle. ‘It must be right,’ you thought. ‘I wasn’t looking for it, I was perfectly happy, so it must be right and natural.’
You and Michelle snuck around together until she was about to head back to Atlanta and you started to panic. You began to talk about chucking everything and moving with her. Michelle was smart enough to know you were just scared over settling into your impending marriage, so she held you off long enough to get out of town without you. Your marriage has been happy, but Michelle is still the one you think about when you think about how it could have been.
Your wife is asleep in the passenger seat, so when Michelle looks over and recognizes you, you wave hello. Her husband is awake in the passenger seat, so she only smiles your way and wiggles one finger off the steering wheel. Your son saw you wave and he’s asking who that is in the car next to you. You tell him it’s nobody, hoping he won’t wake your mom. You’re busy studying Michelle’s husband and kids and trying to calculate which car is carrying the better life, and you don’t want to be interrupted. Her husband is about as attractive as you, or as attractive as anyone can be with two kids in the back seat. Michelle looks older but great as ever. Her kids might be fatter than yours, you can’t tell. When your son asks you why you keep looking into that car, you change lanes just as your wife is waking up. She leans over and hugs your arm, and you keep in the left lane for the rest of the drive to your summer rental.
Happy Bumper To Bumper Day!