Tuesday, June 30, 2009

on the road

Pull over, pull over! they squealed - our four squirmy, sweaty, agonizingly bored children desperate for a break from the nausea inducing monotony of a seven-hour car ride - when they spotted an outstretched thumb by the side of the road. He was on his his way to Chicago, just him, his Martin guitar, and his glassy-eyed dog, hoping to carve out a modest career for himself in that big ole windy city where good music (not that canned and contrived "top 40" drivel) still means something. It'd be way cool of you to help me out, he said. 


Next thing I knew, we were shoving Arthur books and piles of Goldfish cracker crumbs off of the only seat available. Sorry for the mess, I told him. What's your name? Where are you from? Our bearded and mysterious hitchhiker replied only in riddles. I am every man. I am light born of darkness.  I'm still searching for my birthplace in this land of anonymity and endless pasts. 

He was hard to read, impossible to summarize and yet each of us, from my husband on down to little Mary, saw a bit of ourselves in that calloused-footed stranger. We traveled for hours in comfortable, contemplative silence until all too soon a steel and glass embedded skyline seemed to rise majestically, instantaneously, from the asphalt. Drop me anywhere, he told us confidently. Every street is paved with enlightenment. Troy pulled our van up to a curb outside a diner. Well, It's been real, he offered finally, sincerely, almost gratefully after a long and pregnant pause. Then just like that (poof!), to our astonishment ... he was gone. 

Yesterday, I heard a melody soft and entrancing on the radio. It stopped me dead in my tracks, pierced my soul. I waited breathlessly for the morning DJ to announce the name of the title and artist. Could it be? I wondered anxiously before impulsively turning the volume down quickly to zero. I would choose to believe so, to preserve my image of him as a noble wanderer born to fly up from out of the ashes - to let the memory of that encounter (our brush with greatness? madness? genius?) serenade me ever more. Oh, what a song! 

O.K. O.K. so maybe we were really just giving Troy's cousin, ERIK, a lift to a nearby coffee shop but that photo, I think, deserved a bigger and better narrative. 

How silly am I? : )


   

7 comments:

daningo said...

Loved it!

Fr. James Early said...

Pretty darn silly!

Kris Livovich said...

How fun! I was for a moment, way jealous of your ability to take in the stranger in a crazy, radical way. We kind of lost that ability after we had kids. A little too cautious I guess. Thanks for helping us dream a bit today.

Sara said...

Wonderful!

Beth said...

You almost had me except I kept thinking, "that sure looks like and sounds like Erik. Though I really love the idea of you picking up a hitchhiker. Making strawberry bread for play-date tomorrow. Wish you could join us. Miss you.

Fr. Christian Mathis said...

Funny! Thanks for the story.

Sandy said...

Ok, I laughed out loud at that one... Great!