Dangerous Compassions


“Those are hydrangea,” I told Ming as we drove by a lot with a grassy yard and big hydrangea bush by the house.  “God, what an ugly name!  Sounds like a disease.”

“Yeah,” Ming said.

“I have hydrangea–I have six weeks to live!” I said.  “I need to be watered.  Don’t send flowers.”

These hydrangea flowers were vivid blue, and the leaves were dark green.

long drive

We were on a long drive.  “I need to pull over,” Ming said.

We stopped at a gas station with a small restaurant.  It was a rural area.  We walked around and looked at a blackberry bushes forever and a weird metal bridge that made a humming sound when people drove over it.  The hum was intense!

“Let’s play a game called what I like best about Oregon,” I said.  “What I like best about Oregon is blackberry bushes.  What do you like best about Oregon?”

We took turns listing our favorite things.  “Rain,” Ming said.

“Oh, that’s a good one,” I said.  “What I like best about Oregon is…hippies.  What do you like best about Oregon?”

We were holding hands, walking through a parking lot.  Lately Ming gets read as a dude, which is safer for us.  Some years he gets read more as a woman.  People call us ladies and have objected to our apparent lesbianism.

“Green,” Ming said.

“That’s a good one.  You’re taking all the good ones.”

Ming photographed me by these tanks of gas.


sleep attack

Then Ming was trying to write stuff down in the car and fell asleep with his phone and pen in his hand.  He slept like that for about 25 minutes.

I walked around, messaged friends, got some sunshine.  I sat on a red bench and looked at the trees.

The small restaurant was bustling.  I watched white people come and go.  Some youngish dudes in work clothes, and retired-looking seniors.  A gray-haired lady left her tiny dog in the backseat of her car, and it barked tiny barks.

I stayed near Ming.  A person of color asleep in his car in the middle of the afternoon seemed like a sitting duck here.  I stayed nearby and rested, grateful for my blessings.

Indeed, we did get a “wellness check” from one of the workers at the restaurant.  Ming thought it was nice, but I felt it as one more painful evaluation.  That’s a good microcosmic moment of how he and I differ.  Our car is stuffed with stuff as we travel.  Yes, we look homeless as we are.


“I’m sorry,” Ming said afterward.  He was turning left, using his turn signal, as we went back to the freeway.

“For what?” I asked.

“That I couldn’t stay awake,” he said.

“It’s ok, honey.  I was perfectly fine,” I said, touching his arm.  “Thank you for pulling over.  You did great.  I was happy as a clam.”


Unfortunately, Ming wrote on his shirt a lot, holding that pen uncapped in his sleep.  It’s his orange and red heart tie dye shirt, and we were upset to see those three separate pen mark places.

“You can wear your shirt inside out,” I offered to Ming by way of comfort.  “You could be like me.”  I like to wear my clothes inside out because the seams bother me.

I resolve to take the pen out of his hand next time.

By Laura-Marie

Good at listening to the noise until it makes sense.

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