Saturday, February 16, 2008

Southern Comfort

I am sitting in the extended cab of a Chevy pickup truck driving 90 mph from Little Rock to Memphis with three total strangers. We met about 30 minutes ago in the Northwest line at the airport in Little Rock, all of us waiting to check in for a flight that had just been canceled. They are saying the next flight out isn't until tomorrow and all the other airlines are booked. Nothing against Little Rock but I miss Boulder and I am ready to be home. Priscilla, a well-dressed black lady in front of me in line, was on the ball. She had already called her husband, Milton, who is coming back to the airport and planning to drive her to Memphis. This woman was commanding (in a way that made you love her) and she wasn't about to miss one minute of her girl’s-only vacation. She has that kind of southern stubborn authority you don't even try to fight. I can guarantee you her husband goes to church with her every Sunday, the car is always full of gas, and her kids have impeccable table manners. Sharon, a twenty-something size 2 with dangly earrings, also left stranded from the canceled flight, accepts the invite to come along. Right after assuring her mom on the phone that we are not ax-murderers.

I was in Little Rock on a last-minute trip to see my brother in the hospital. Now that he is out of the woods, I’m trying to get home in time to salvage a bit of Valentine’s Day with my boyfriend.

So I’m typing away on my MacBook in the back seat, listening to my iPod, trying to align my fingers with the keyboard, which is a moving target with every bump. This moment reminds me of college, of all the road trip adventures, and the feeling of being “yes” waiting to happen. One of my friends once commented how uncanny it was that every time she put her iPod on shuffle, it always seemed to be the perfect soundtrack. So I am putting the theory to the test.

First song, Luckiest - Ben Folds. I stare out the window and am totally amazed because I do indeed feel incredibly lucky. I am lucky my brother is going to be OK. I am crazy lucky to be in this truck with the generous couple who’ve invited me along for the ride when they didn’t even know my name. Once you get started, the grateful list comes easy. I am lucky Noah was already at his dad’s. I am grateful to work for people who supported me when I said I wouldn’t be in the office for 5 days. I’m lucky that Milton, Priscilla’s husband, knows how to drive like bat out of hell without getting a ticket.

See The World - Gomez. This is perfect! Not just because I get to look out the window and see miles and miles of bible-belt nothingness, but because the beat matches the rhythm of the bumps in the road.

Complicated - Avril Lavigne. I know, I’m a bit old to have her on any playlist but it’s a great workout song and makes me feel hip. At least it did until I heard the 20-something bloggers I work with talk about her with the same high school nostalgia that I talk about Air Supply, Asia and that hunky TV show, Simon & Simon. Maybe I am not so hip.

In the moment - Sister Hazel. Yes, it is absolutely impossible to be anywhere else but right here right now. I keep looking up every few moments to see if the speedometer really does still say 90 mph and if we truly are tailgating a convoy of Cisco Foods 18-wheelers trying to get them to move out of the way (they do). I wonder if Milton can really see with that huge crack on the driver’s side windshield and if he really does plan to drive the whole way with the emergency flashers on. He must really love Priscilla or else he was really looking forward to his week alone ☺

Waiting on the World to Change - John Mayor. This one is fitting but annoying. I love change but I am not into waiting. I’m not of the mindset that we should patiently wait for the people and circumstances that orbit around us to change before we decide what is possible. I will decide without their influence, thank you very much. I don’t care to wait for another republican to suck us deeper into a war we shouldn’t have started in the first place. I don’t plan to wait until my cholesterol is 250 before I add an apple to my diet and get on a treadmill. I don’t plan to wait until my young son is doing beerbongs in college before I talk to him about drugs and alcohol. And I certainly don’t plan to wait in a hotel with a $10 food voucher while Northwest figures out a way to get me home. I’ll be in my bathtub with a glass of Pinot by then.


Anonymous said...

I'm glad you made it back to Colorado safely. It does sound like quite a trip but dude, you sssssooooo need some new music (although i'm in complete agreement with the John Mayer thing). I could never understand that. why's he waiting. hello. get up and do something. TTFN Lee

Nancy said...

Wow! Reading your blog is better than the old Erma Bombeck articles. A great insight to the realness of life.

Glad your brother is okay...

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