Down The Road. . .

I’m reminded this week of how important friendships are as well as how lasting they can be.

Thank goodness.

Friendships have always been important to me. I’ve been fortunate to maintain some that have lasted nearly my entire life. And I can’t imagine my life without my friends.  In so many ways, the music and color of this journey has been the lives that have so touched mine.

I’m headed out later today, Eastward, to Meridian, MS, to  visit and spend a couple days with my friend, David. David are I used to both live in the Seattle area. We attended church together, embarked on creative endeavors and shared our lives. Those lives would take us in different directions geographically.

So when I moved to Texas, I was suddenly closer to his home outside of Atlanta. We’ve tried several times to reconnect but opportunity and circumstance haven’t been favorable. Fortune is smiling upon us this weekend.

As I pack to get ready, I’m reminded of another road trip, almost twenty years ago, where David asked me to drive with him from Seattle to Los Angeles – straight through – to take care of some things for his mom shortly after the death of his father. The trip was filled with laughter, tears and revelation and I think it was kind of a bonding experience for us. I wrote about it in an article many eons ago trying to express my gratitude for the privilege of friendship and the numerous gifts it brings. Here’s an excerpt from ‘Faith, Friendship & Whiteline Fever.’

Good journeying.

            The trusty Volvo cruised through the night while it’s two occupants looked out into the desolate landscape and waxed philosophic.

            “So what do you think, John,” David, my cohort in all-night journeys queried.  “Do you want another Fig Newton or do you want to be daring and go for a S’more?”

 

            “How about a 7-up,” I said, knowing I was falling fast on the eating-adventure scale.

            “7-up it is,” he said, tossing me a can with one hand, grabbing a diet Pepsi for himself with the other, all the while guiding our fearless auto deeper into the night.  It was 3:20 AM on a Wednesday morning as we pushed through the California  desert. Ventura, still four hundred miles away, was our destination.  I looked over at David to make sure his eyes weren’t at half-mast.  He seemed born for the road, ready to continue on through Mexico and probably Antarctica if necessary.

            “How do you think your Mom’s holding up?”

            “I don’t know,” he said, mulling over the question.  “It’s hard to tell with her sometimes.  I do know she’s glad we’re coming.  She’s really glad you’re coming, John.  Not the least of which is to keep me from falling asleep at the wheel.”

            “Wait until you get my bill,” I said, wondering what kind of help I could really be.  I wanted to be there for David but it was such a private time for his family.  Would I just be in the way?

            “My eyes are getting droopy.  If I fall asleep, I won’t be keeping up my end of the bargain.  Besides, your Mom will kill me if we die in a car crash.  Give me a story.  Tell me a joke, anything.”

            “I never remember jokes,” he said.

            “How ‘bout impressions,” I ventured.  “I can do a few.”

            “Good,” David laughed, “because I can’t.”

            I straightened up in the seat and swayed my arm in front of me, resting my chin on my hand.  All I needed was a violin.

            “Oh, Rochester, would you see if Mary’s home yet?” I glanced at David with lazy eyes.

            He burst out laughing.  “What?!?” he exclaimed.

            “Oh, come on, you gotta know who that was?”

            “Sorry,” he said, giggling, trying to let me down gently.

            “All right, all right.  Now watch and listen closely.”  I took up the posture again.  “I know, I know, I’m so cheap I won’t even eat my lunch in the sun for fear that my shadow might ask me for a bite.”

            The car was swerving now as David tried to gather himself under control.

            “Are you laughing with me or at me?” I asked.

            “I’m not sure,” he wheezed, apologizing and sputtering, all the while his face a bright crimson.

            “Jack Benny.  It was Jack Benny.”

            “It–what?!?” More gales of laughter.  “I’m sorry.  Really!”

            “That’s fine,” I said, crossing my arms.  “But you’re up next.”

            “Really, John,” David pleaded.  “I don’t do impressions; and by the sounds of it, neither do you.”  A new roll of laughter.

            “We have miles to go before we sleep.  Bad, good, indifferent, you might as well let ‘em rip.”

            David coughed, pushed back his hat and tried to calm down.  Suddenly, a baritone cry that rose on the scale ending in a garbled soprano sound came out of him.

            “Ohh Raggy, howra ‘bout a Scrooby snack?!”

            A pause settled in between us.  “That’s it?”

            “Yep.  You just got my best.”

            I looked over at him and he looked back.  I broke into laughter.  “That’s pretty good.  Jack Benny and Scooby Doo.  Think we could take it on the road?”

            “I think we just did,” he said.  “Now what do you want to do?”

            “How far are we?” I asked.

            “We still have about six or seven hours.”

            “O Boy,” I sighed.  “I think I can do all of the Little Rascals?”

            “I wonder what’s on the radio,” David said, turning on the knob as he guided us deeper into the morning hours.

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