I wish I had a cameraman walking behind me last night as I walked home.
Yesterday, I covered the Heat game for The Huffington Post. In terms of games, it’s probably not one that I’m going to remember. The walk home, though? Yea, I’ll remember that for awhile.
To get home, I have to cross a bridge. There’s always a decent number of people passing over the bridge, so when I approached it last night and saw a sizable crowd, I didn’t think much.
There’s always something happening in Miami, too, so I didn’t think much when I saw flashing police lights. I also didn’t think too much when I saw a lot of police officers roaming about the area. I guess my perception could be better, but I’ll tackle my perceptiveness on another blog.
It only hit me that something was wrong when I got to the point of the bridge’s beginning and saw “DO NOT CROSS” tape blocking my entry.
I then became a little bit more perceptive and noticed the bomb squad car and multiple Homeland Security vehicles and officers.
Even as all of this came into my view, I still stood there. My feet as close as they could come to the bridge, without crossing the “DO NOT CROSS” tape. I didn’t immediately look for a detour. I didn’t start walking another way. I just stood there.
And I just stood there with a growing group of people.
For some reason in my life, people come to me. With their problems. Their stories. Their issues. My family. My friends. They come to me.
People I don’t know come to me, too. For my whole life, people I’ve so much as blinked at have walked across rooms or stood up to talk to me and tell me their problem. Their story. Their issue.
And last night was no different. Except it was in Miami.
As I stood by that “DO NOT CROSS” tape trying to figure out my own path home, a beautiful, blonde model approached me. Her first words to me? “WHY DID HE DO THAT TO ME!? WHY?!?! WHY ARE PEOPLE HERE SO WEIRD?”
“Um, what are you talking about?” I said.
“The taxi driver! Why did he do that to me?!”
“I have no idea what you’re talking about.”
“I paid him $75 and he dropped me off here and this isn’t where I’m even supposed to be and now I can’t get over the bridge!”
“Oh, wow. Yea, I’m sorry,” was about as good of response as I could muster.
Because I now appeared to be helping solve this woman’s issue, I suddenly became a mayor of sorts of a scene precipitated by a bomb squad and some “DO NOT CROSS” tape. A couple from Bulgaria approached me to ask what was going on. “I have no idea,” I said. A group out on a double date asked me where the closest bar was, “Behind you,” I said. The model returned. “WHY DID HE DO THAT TO ME?!” Girl, I don’t know why people do what they do.
As this scene unfolded, and as I grew more tired, my thoughts finally went to the right place: Home. I needed to get home. Right then. Officers said the bridge wasn’t going to open for at least a couple of hours, and there was no way I was standing on the other side of it, blocked off by some “DO NOT CROSS” tape and fielding this circus.
I needed a detour.
Life is funny sometimes, because it gives you moments like the one I faced last night. I’m not saying bomb threats are funny, because clearly they aren’t. I wouldn’t be writing any of this if a bomb went off, but one didn’t and I can’t even find a news story about what caused the closure of the bridge.
I only say the preceding, because sometimes in life you are given great, big, crazy happenings that mirror exactly what is going on in your own life.
Last night, I stood in front of “DO NOT CROSS” tape for longer than I should have. I fielded crazy questions and pacified upset people. And in the midst of all of that, it took a really, really long time before something in me finally kicked in and said, “Alicia, you do not need to be here right now. Go another way.”
Why are we sometimes afraid to go off of the path we’re on? Why are we afraid to go another way? Why won’t we give up a set direction that may not get us where we need to be? Why won’t we take a chance on something that may be a little bit further out of our way, but will definitely get us where we need to go?
Why don’t we take the detour more often?
I hit a detour this week. Forbes let me go. Truth be told, I wanted to quit Forbes in November 2013. I told my family, my close friends and even the guy I was seeing at the time that I was quitting. Everyone thought I quit. I didn’t write anything for Forbes for a month.
But then I got scared. I thought quitting would derail my writing career. I thought everything would be over if I didn’t keep going down that path. Metaphorically, I thought it was the only way for me to get “home.”
For a long time, I’ve wanted to write a book. I’ve started and stopped. I’ve put it off and started other things. I know the story in my head that needs to go on paper. When I see it getting there, I imagine it as a film. A story coming to life.
I’ve been afraid of taking the detour to write it, though. And so, I just stopped. I stopped in my tracks, where I was and didn’t move any other direction.
When commonsense hit me last night and I realized I could go another route to get home, I felt a calmness overcome me. Suddenly, in the midst of a crazy scene, I knew that everything was going to be ok. And so, I started walking the other way. And along the way, I met the most hilarious couple and followed them to the Metromover. As I took literally one step onto the Metromover, a complete stranger looked at me and said, “Hey! I’m lost. Can you tell me how to get to where I’m going?”
Having just escaped the melee surrounding the “DO NOT CROSS” zone, I initially thought to myself, “Oh, COME ON! Can’t I just enjoy this Metromover ride in PEACE?!” My words, though, said, “Where are you going?” She told me where she was going and as fate or luck or the universe would have it, she was going to the building next to mine. “I’m headed that way, if you want to just walk with me, I can show you where it is.”
We talked first about the scene on the bridge and how crazy Miami is. We talked about how she lives in New York. And since I didn’t really know her, I didn’t ask what she did. She said it, though, out of nowhere. “I’m a writer.” “Oh, that’s cool! I write, too,” I said. “I write books and screenplays,” she said.
Sometimes, people, life hits you over the head and tells you where you need to go.
There are some of us, who move through life smoothly, naturally and without much resistance.
And then there’s me.
It took me 14-months, being let go from my first paid writing gig, a bomb threat on a bridge, and meeting a complete stranger on a train to get me where I need to be going.
Sometimes, though, a detour is the best way.