Saturday, October 18, 2014

31 Songs: On The Road Again

So, we started a road trip with a fairly well-thought-out plan. A wedding, a short time with family, a quick stop to see a newborn baby and his parents, touching base with some friends along our route in multiple states, eventually ending up in the Lone Star State, where we'd revisit old haunts, hang out with some church people and eat as much Mexican food and chicken fried steak as possible before returning to Virginia.
Headed southwest...

That's how we thought it would go.

And it did, up to the point when we left our first stop, drove three miles down the road and realized that the request that we stay "Just a few more days...." came from a place and a person worth listening to.

And so we did.

Already packed, already headed south - we turned the car around.

"We came back. We decided you were right; we need a few more days."

There was much rejoicing.

/ / /

But today, we did leave, for reals, and we went to visit that little miracle of a 2 pound 7 ounce baby. I cupped my hand over his tiny little head and his heart rate accelerated. He squirmed. I cupped his bottom instead and he calmed; I felt the fragile body underneath my suddenly ginormous hand. I sensed the tremendous gift of life, of that I knew you before you were born line that always seemed to refer to something prior to conception, before time, within the heavens. That word shifted for me this afternoon, in the rapid breathing and the determined passion for life I sensed in little Elliot. Born at 27 weeks, by all rights his little body should have been nestled within his mama, still; but here he was, wide-eyed, greeting the world. Tiny. Fighting.

Holy and sacred.


/ / /

And so now we point the big red Suburban south and roll down the interstates in relative ease, thankful for the gifts we've been given. The car runs well. The company is good. We have Malley's chocolate and fresh brownies in the back seat.

Nothing like a road trip to remind yourselves of why
you love one another. #wearethebestoffriends
I've run up and down this road many times; when my family moved from western Pennsylvania to Texas in the 1970's, we drove back home about once a year. Columbus, Cincy, Nashville, Memphis, Little Rock....then miles and miles of Texas. I remember the sheer joy of navigating - when I was old enough to read a map - while Dad drove us homeward. I loved the heavy atlas, the way the bigger states would get two pages and the big cities got their own cut-away section. I loved to see where we'd been, where we were going, and then calculate - with the little triangle markers on the highways - how long it might take to get there.

(Will anyone born after GPS and smart phones ever know this joy? I suppose not)

(Sigh. Feeling old...)

The intrigue of the surrounding towns fascinated me, whether on the map or through the window as we passed by. All my life, I have found myself drawn to the idea that an entirely new life was possible - if only we lived in this other place. I have easily - maybe too easily - imagined what life might look like in pretty much any town I've ever visited. Or driven through.

The world is full of possibility, and I am drawn - always - to what is possible.

What I know for sure, halfway through this trip, is this: Sometimes it's good to turn around and stick with what's familiar, at least for a few days. We forfeited a good bit of our intended adventures, and there are several friends' faces we will miss seeing this time around. But I am confident that we will never, ever find ourselves in a place where we regret spending just a little bit more time with those whose blood we share.

The road was waiting for us all along. We're on it, again; and richer for the delay.

And the song is more than just a phrase; it's three minutes of melody and harmony that I learned, driving up and down these interstates with my dad. Willie and Waylon and The Eagles Greatest Hits and the Beach Boys and my dad imagined his own possibilities, back when he was younger than I am today, the trickle-down of the songs he loved engaged and shaped my own soul.

No regrets.

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