On The Road…

Posted by on Jan 10, 2018 in Blog | Comments Off on On The Road…

Stafford, TX (a few years back)

Cutting diagonally south on 54 we came out of Kansas into the panhandles of Oklahoma and Texas. We’re in a park in Stafford in the flatlands of the Texas Panhandle eating lunch at a picnic table. Pebbles has all these new scents to check out. Some Mexican women walk their little children to the swings and slides, looking at Pebbles to gauge her safety factor.

Coming out of Kansas there is a pretty quick shift from its formality. On the left almost in the wake of the state line is an open auto junkyard like from back when I was a kid and they were more like free theme parks than something to hide behind corrugated metal fences. Two ancient VW bugs sit side by side on their grassy porch facing the highway.

Now there are islands of piney wind-breaks marking farms way off the highway, little buzz-cuts of dark green on drab yellow stretching on forever.
The highway becomes more relaxed with narrow lanes from the Fifties, veined bumpy surface and faded out yellow centerlines. Where there were safety furrows retrofitted onto the shoulders they are now eroded into shallow depressions so tired drivers are allowed to wander off the road at will without being shaken awake.

The small towns are what-the-hell kind of communities from way back laid out with the used-up machinery and tractors and trucks melting back into the earth in the directions they were going on their last trip. We listened to Clapton and J. J. Hale’s Running Down a Dead End Road. Hook looked like some well mannered tornado scooted through every few years to see about rearranging things in case they started to suggest a pattern of man-made organization, let’s say someone came back from the city for health reasons and decided the hometown needed fixing up. Word got to Tornado Central in the sky and some dropped by to remind the people of how they liked things naturally coming together and falling apart. It is a comfort. I may retire here and sit on a tilting porch to soak up more peace. A fellow like me is made of tornado rearrangements.

The other night Marilyn got up and slid the bedroom door closed to go up front and read to see if she could get sleepy again. When I got up she said she’d just started this fabulous book and how the opening grabbed her right off with conversation between the two characters that did away with the need for narrative description of how they looked. I told her I’d like to see it and she showed me a book I’d written years before based on a horseback trail trip made with a friend. We rode the desert route of the Santa Fe Trail from Ulysses, Kansas and got to Santa Fe three weeks later. She was genuinely relieved I could write. She hadn’t been able to get into my earlier books.

People who know me don’t want to read me, our kids especially. People who want to meet me after reading me are disappointed when they do. So why do I write? Because it’s fun and what I do in life besides swim laps and drive the RV back and forth between Minnesota and Mexico.

There’s a movie called Big Fish where a road salesman brings home these tales he shares with his kids that are so unbelievable they’re glad when he goes back on the road. When he dies all these unbelievable people show up for his funeral, a regular circus sideshow of storybook characters that in fact exist. His wife, kids and friends are astonished. He was telling the truth. Now they want to hear more of his stories but it’s too late. My kids and Marilyn’s are still at that disbelieving step. Not Cristina, though. She knows.