Double rainbow at Hamlin Speedway
I confess: too often I neglect to count my blessings. My excuses are many. I’m busy. I’m tired. I’m overwhelmed. I’m disappointed. But they are just that: excuses. Because even when I am busy, tired, overwhelmed, and disappointed, I have an abundance of blessings. I got to count some of them this weekend.
My 21-year-old son was getting ready to spend the summer in Las Vegas studying stagecraft, his passion. He’d spent two weeks out there last summer, and the director of the program he’d attended called me in the fall to ask if he’d be coming back. “He’s so talented,” she said, “and he’s like a sponge, he learns so quickly.”
“He’d love to come back for the entire eight-week program,” I said. “It just depends on what we can afford.”
“He’s got so much promise,” she said. “We really want him back. So you tell me what you can afford between zero and $10,000, and we’ll find a way to make up the difference.”
This woman’s generosity—with both scholarship money and recognition of my son’s talents—moved me beyond words.
Nolan worked and saved for the next six months to pay the portion of tuition we said we could to pay. My husband and I saved to pay for his flight, room, and board.
The trip that had once seemed a long ways off was almost here. Nolan was scheduled to fly to Las Vegas Sunday afternoon.
One thing Nolan wanted to do before he left was to watch his friend Tyler race, something he hadn’t been able to do because he always worked at the dinner theater on weekends when the races were held.
With all the packing he had to do, Nolan couldn’t go to the racetrack Saturday afternoon with Tyler and his dad. Since Hamlin Speedway was 90 miles away in Pennsylvania, it looked like Nolan wasn’t going to get to see Tyler race after all.
“Why don’t we hustle to get everything taken care of,” I said, “and then we can all go watch Tyler together?”
Nolan smiled. “Really?”
“Yes! Dad and I would love to see Tyler race. And we want to spend time with you before you go.” He didn’t know just how much we wanted to spend time with him, and I didn’t say. I felt my need to spend every last minute with him coming off of me in waves; I couldn’t put words to it and didn’t want to, for fear of scaring him away.
The sky darkened during our afternoon of laundry and packing, and there were reports of thunderstorms.
“What if it rains?” Glenn said.
“Let’s just go,” I said. “No matter what, we’ll be together.”
We piled in the car a little after four and headed to Pennsylvania. I was giddy with excitement as we drove across New York State. I love going on road trips with my family. We laugh, we talk, we tell stories, we bond in ways that the busyness of everyday life seldom allows us to do.
We talked about anything and everything—the current craziness at my job, Glenn’s latest audio find, what Nolan would do if offered a job in Vegas. (“Without snowy winters, I could buy a motorcycle!” Gulp.)
It rained on and off during our drive. We read the dark clouds like tealeaves: the racing would go on, it would be cancelled, it would be delayed.
We found our way to Hamlin Speedway, an oval one-fifth mile clay track that was quite literally dropped into a farm field. Tyler said the races were delayed, but they were still scheduled to take place.
We got dinner from a tiny food shack and sat on a wet wooden bench to eat. I looked up as I bit into a really bad hamburger. A double rainbow filled the sky. I instinctively thought to make a wish, but I stopped myself. What more could I wish for?
A short while later we watched Tyler come in first in his heat. But before we could watch him compete in a full race, the skies opened up on us. His event was cancelled.
“I’m sorry you drove all the way here for nothing,” Tyler said.
“I’m sorry we didn’t get to see you race,” I told him, “but I’m not sorry we came.” And I wasn’t.
As we drove Nolan to the airport the next afternoon, I thought about that double rainbow. If I had made a wish, it would have been for Nolan to find work that fulfilled his passion and suited his talents, but I knew instinctively that I didn’t need to make that wish; Nolan was already making that happen on his own.
It turned out that the double rainbow was simply one more thing of beauty in my day, my weekend, and my life. It was another blessing, one of many that I took time to count.