...the air is warm, heavy, still, and tinted red-brown by the smoke from a massive fire burning, uncontrolled, some 75 miles or more to the south...
A friend called me tonight. She is driving cross-country; we talked from Texarkana, Texas until she was well into Arkansas and thinking about stopping for the night in Little Rock.
As always, we talked about many things. She is good at loosening my tongue; I feel no fear of saying anything to her. She suggested I should put some of the stories I told her here. Some, I may, but most I will not, because they cannot be told in a way that would make them as inoffensive to some readers as they are to me.
I'm a strange person, I admit. It takes a lot to offend me. You might say as a white, middle-class male it should take a lot to offend me; I haven't suffered all that much from stereotyping or discrimination. From my safe white-male perch, I find humor in places others would not but, in my opinion, should. So I consider it a service to the community to keep some of it to myself.
And some of the stories from my life -- the ones I haven't shared with anyone -- should only be told to a woman lying in my arms on a warm, dark night....
Why am I rambling on about this? Because it keeps me from thinking -- and writing -- about some realizations our long, long conversation left me with.
She is one sharp lady. At one point, she said "Even though I love them, when I see cat pictures in your journal, I know you've had a bad day." True enough. I find solace in cats; they seem to like me, and have never betrayed me. I feed them, or at a minimum give them affection and attention, and they respond in their way. Some people have done much less though given much more.
I admire this woman for her talents and sense of adventure. I'm a bit jealous, too; her 3000-mile trip is taking her to the place where she feels she belongs. She has lived in many places, and lived around many different kinds of people, and now she is going Home.
I would give a great deal to be able to set out in such an odyssey. But in my case, I'd be running from and not running to. That saddens me. As the days and years go by, I find there is no place where I want to be, where I feel I would be wanted or really understood.
She still looks to the future. I am more and more consumed by the past.
This is a relatively new thing for me. I can even pinpoint the time when I switched over from forward-looking optimism to backward-looking nostalgia. It happened just over seven months ago on a day I will, unfortunately, never forget.
But, thanks to my kind friend I can still, for a brief time, enjoy looking at the world through the eyes of someone who believes, rightly I think, that she has a place in the world and will be able to find and fill that place.
Her road through the dark night leads to the promise of creativity, happiness, fulfillment.
Mine leads deeper into darkness.
Through her talents, she is going to entertain -- and enlighten -- the world one day, though she doesn't yet know it.
Wherever I am, I'll be cheering her on.
15 hours ago