Zen driving in the East Bay

Seven of our first eight Benise shows were in California. Last Sunday in Oakland, I drove around the East Bay with the runner, a nice girl named Gabriella, to do errands.

We went to a Berkeley health food store called the Elephant Pharmacy and as we were pulling into the parking lot and Gabriella was taking her SWEET TIME finding a parking space, she told me that she practices the art of Zen driving.

She told me that she used to drive fast and get mad easily. Now she drives like a slow poke, doesn't try to make lights, and putters around parking lots, smiling and giggling. She puts the good energy out to her fellow motorists.

Gabriella explained Zen driving while performing a five-minute-long parallel parking job. I listened as closely as I could while also looking over my shoulder to check on/apologize to the guy waiting in a car behind us. I made some distracted comment to her like, "Wow. That's neat," so she'd think I was paying attention.

But I was thinking about how I can't drive five miles without saying, "Go, asshole," to someone. Intersections irritate me and I want to punch someone's lights out if they turn slowly in front of me. DON'T.

We went into the store and bought Dr. Bronner's Magic Soap made with organic oils - "Absolute cleanliness is Godliness! Breathe deeply!" - and the way out we picked up free copies of CommonGround magazine. CommonGround, a conscious enlightenment publication, featured a photograph on the front cover of naked humans splayed out on the trunk and limbs of a giant tree with tits, pubes, and hineys in full effect.

The corresponding article, "Tree Spirits", was on the photographer's lifelong love affair with trees and his desire to "evoke a timeless quality without the cultural cues of clothing."

Gabriella and I made one more stop on the way back to the theater. We moseyed through another parking lot, drove the wrong way up the row, and pulled into a spot at such a sharp angle that Gabriella couldn't get out of her door.

She clambered over to the passenger side to climb out my door which cued giggling on both of our parts. Gabriella said to me afterward, "Thank you for being so chill. Some people might be in a rush and get irritated," to which I responded, "Oh, I think it's great."

I didn't let on that usually I'd be at the top of that rushed and irritated list. With a sharp object in my hand.

I was also thinking, "I like you, Gabriella. I appreciate you, I commend you, and I'm probably jealous of you. But I don't exactly know how to be like you."

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