Stubbornness, donkeys, and free will by pamela francis

I was passing through a small farming town in eastern California on my way back from Palm Springs. After a delightful, yet still oddly tense, five-day visit, I had to take my son’s grandmother home to the Antelope Valley and was anxious to have it be over finally so that I could get back to the business of having fun doing things MY way. Let’s face it. The only thing more satisfying than being an adult, is being an adult in the presence of another adult who might be under the mistaken impression you still have to listen to them. Free will being what it is, you simply do not. You’re grown…, they’re grown… and may the stronger-willed grown-up win. But stronger wills being what they are, sometimes you find yourself acquiescing to theirs, and whaddaya know…? Now you’re on your way to Nevada instead of Palmdale, because Their flawless and fault-free GPS said to go thataway even though Yours said to go thisaway.

Of course, none of this would be so bad except it’s My rental car and gas prices are $5 a gallon here. Plus, I’m trying to get to Halloween

Night at Universal Citywalk, and dammit, I was trying to let You be right this time. But no… Now I’m driving 25 minutes out of my way and I’m not even sure I’m still going the right way anymore ’cause I don’t recognize this area one bit and I’m sure I’ve never been here before and… it sure is pretty, though.  These rolling green hills and distant mountains and signature California palm trees… and, wait a minute… what’s that…? A donkey…? Oh, look, there’s another one. Oh my God, look, there’s a whole gang of them over there at that intersection up ahead. They’re like… everywhere. A freaking herd of donkeys on both sides of every street corner for the next three or four blocks, just minding their own business, hanging out in groups on the side of the road and exercising their free will that they somehow must have wrestled away from a human owner, no doubt, to be able to just…be. Donkeys. On the side of the road. I’ll bet stubbornness had something to do with this, I mused, reaching for my iPhone to take as many pictures as I dared attempt while moving slowly down the road of our scenic mystery detour.

The sight of the iconically obstinate, cute, and gentle animals freely crossing the streets and gathering in large herds all along the route turned our adult frowns upside down, and we entertained the idea that this stressful wrong-way adventure had been meant to be. Divine even. We both agreed it had given us something new and wondrous to behold. I even laughed inside at the symbolism of asses, which we’d both been acting like since her GPS had set us on the road to Hacienda Heights (wherever the heck that is) instead of home to Palmdale. If I’m honest, I’ll admit it had started even before that. Like when she insisted on watching a Beyonce movie, and I dripped contempt at it all the way through because Michael Beckwith wasn’t in it. Or like when I said that deuces are usually wild in crazy 8s, and she refused to honor that. Or when I wanted to start cleaning the condo the night before we left instead of the day of because I thought it would be cool to scrub toilets while listening to her grandson’s latest ambient tracks, but she wanted to listen to KennyG.

Stubbornness, donkeys, and free will. I just know there was a message in there for the both of us “grown-ups”.

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