I travel once a month now to see a client in Wichita, and, because these are at least three-day trips, it’s easier and less stressful to take a cab between my white-bread vanilla suburb and O’Hare Airport than drive and park and fight Chicago traffic.

There is a very nice woman living near me who was born in Mexico and who also drives for the cab company I use, and we have happily settled into a routine that started several months ago as a business relationship-of-convenience but is now a friendship.  Every fourth Monday morning Kansas-bound and fourth Wednesday evening home-bound, we now catch-up on each other’s lives during the rides; I hear about her kids (she’s a single mom with three of them) and she asks about my social life (mostly hypothetical, but definitely improving lately).  The rides are a delight, and even sometimes quite poignant; I’ve gotten her talking about herself to the point that she’s had to stop talking to wipe away very-genuine tears as we exchanged thoughts about life and families and the way that the world turns.  She has raised her family on half a shoestring, works ten and twelve hour days, and has watched her kids Make It – and told all without self-pity, just strength and pride.  Her oldest son is now studying for the police academy; the others make good grades, work at their part-time jobs, stay out of trouble and respect their mom deeply.

This is a family that has very little extra to brag about in the way of indulgences … and what I hear from my friend every four weeks when she tells me about her family and asks me about my life is joy and contentment and care for others.

The last time she saw me before today, four weeks ago, I was instructed that I WOULD be catching her up on my social-life – and while I was fully prepared to comprehensively debrief this one-of-many-surrogate-mom-figures-in-my-life on my most recent date, I didn’t have the chance to do so today because I got to hear about the family wedding SHE’D been to the week before, for her nephew in Arkansas.

Think of all the possible sitcom scenarios you can mentally conjure of a very-extended Mexican wedding and reception with no fewer than four bands (!) where three hundred people are invited and FOUR hundred show up, double the expectations for noise and hilarity, and you will start to have a picture of what I had described to me this morning.

By the time we were halfway to the aeropuerto, I was laughing, crying, and begging Adela to stop because my sides hurt.
When she got to the part of the story where she was telling about being dragged to the front of the hall and then uttered the phrase, “Mexican karaoke”, I hit the floor.  It’s a wonder she didn’t drive into another lane on the tollway considering how hard we were both laughing.

Moral:  wealth comes in all SORTS of currencies –