The Motorcycle

The pleasant gardens of a Buddhist temple down a side street in old Chaing Mai had the desired calming effect on our blood pressure. We watched fuzzy chicks, aloof cats and frail dogs wandering among the luxuriant greens of the grasses, trees and shrubs; orange robed monks writing in the shade and a few quietly wandering visitors. We decided to step into the temple, doffed our shoes at the door, slipped into the quiet candlelight and assumed the kneeling pose of meditation—toes away from the image of the Buddha. I thought about our family, our trip-—and said a fervent prayer for our continued safety.

We reversed our contemplative path—donning our shoes and stepping out of the quiet gardens into the busy streets of Chaing Mai. We assumed our by now familiar "crossing Asian streets" positions, holding hands in pairs, George and Sam in the lead. They crossed the first half of the street. Cassidy and I followed on the run.

Cassidy's hand slipped from mine as she continued on across—and into the oncoming traffic. I think I screamed. It was unreal, slow motion but impossible to comprehend. My beautiful golden light had slipped away from me. . . to go out? Her interface with the motorcycle was brief. She looked up and headed back toward the island of safety that was her mid-street family.

Then we were sure that the cyclist was done-in. Would we be picking up an injured or dead Thai driver from the pavement? Fortunately, he was a good driver. He swerved and kept going. The car behind him stopped.

I grabbed Cassidy, shaking and crying as shopkeepers appeared along the sidewalk, their concerned faces shaking and aghast. We all screamed and cried, talked about broken rules, felt lucky, felt terrible. We alternately chastised, and comforted poor Cassidy.

It wasn't until much later that we noticed the tire tread across the top of Cassidy's shoe.

Now all we have to do is get Cassidy to not be QUITE so afraid of motorcycles. For now, I'm happy about her raised respect for traffic.

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