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Road ramblings - Sing With Me If It's Just For Today...
If I should fall behind, Guyster, wait for me.
guysterrules
guysterrules
Road ramblings
Wednesday, Thursday, and Friday were long days of lasts. The first day was at the office: the last time I’d hear the mechanical woman’s voice announcing I had arrived on the seventh floor, the last time I would buy cookies from the café downstairs, the last time I’d see my colleagues for a long time, the last time I’d be part a daily part of this office.

Jamie swiveled a quarter turn from her computer and said, “See ya.” Earlier she had vowed not to cry when I left the office, and she made good on that promise. I’d already hugged and kissed most everyone else in my department. I left the last kiss for Gretchen, squeezing all one hundred pounds of her, and kissing the top of her blonde ringlets.

Joe and I squirmed our way through Thursday ostensibly packing. Little was done, though, other than sitting in our familiar spots on the couch staring at the TV. I’d start to put things in a box, tearing up as I once again put Billy’s things, our things, back in a box readying them to go back home to where they belong. We were both exhausted from doing nothing other than anticipating the moment we knew would happen since the day we first met. I tucked Joe in on the couch, kissed him goodnight, and went to sleep in that bedroom for the last time.

Friday was the toughest goodbye. I knew it would be, and so did Joe. He handed me an unadorned small cardboard box, mumbling an apology for its lack of wrapping. Inside was his beloved mini iPod, the green one with the engraving Memento mori. Memento vivere..

“I always meant for you to have this.” While he showed me how to use it, he said he filled it with his favorite music. I half-listened while I wiped my eyes knowing how much this meant to him, knowing how much everything means to him.

The movers were hours late. I started to panic at having to leave town so late in the day. Finally, while the movers had just packed up the living room and were starting on the kitchen, I told Joe I had to leave to make time on the road. He began to carry the ten or so boxes filled with things I wouldn’t entrust to a moving company down to the car. It was DC swamp weather on Friday, and he came back soaking in sweat.

On our last trip down the elevator, he struggled with three heavy boxes while I held a cooler with one hand containing Billy’s unfinished Coke bottle, his uneaten tapioca pudding cup, two birthday toppings, one spelling out Happy Birthday Guyster and the other Happy Birthday Terry, and an unopened bottle of sparkling cider left over from our last New Years Eve. They’re chilled mementos from our refrigerator in Venice, and they’ll return there.

“You’re my pack mule.”

“Not anymore. Mickey can be your pack mule,” he said, wistful and angry.

We stood next to my loaded Explorer, and I kissed Joe all over his face, again and again, told him I loved him, and watched him wave through my rearview mirror as I pulled out of the driveway one last time.
• • • •

Somewhere in the middle of the wide waist of Ohio, just past the Mad River my odometer turned to a one followed by five zeroes. Gretchen called a little while later, checking on my progress. I looked up at my digital compass. It read W.

“All I know is I’m headed in the right direction, both literally and figuratively.”
• • • •

I pulled into St. Elmo, Illinois around eight on Saturday evening. It was a long day of driving marked only by brief stops to reload my Diet Coke, gas up, and take a leak. The in-laws had arranged a backyard party for me on Sunday, so I’d planned to stay in Guysterville for an extra day.

After checking into the same motel Billy and I had stayed in on our first visit to see his family, the same place where I’ve come back to visit without him, Chris and Becky, Billy’s nephew and his wife, came over for a brief visit before they went to a friend’s birthday toga party.

Sunday morning, I had breakfast with Billy’s brother, Bub, and his new wife, Karen, at the most popular buffet in Effingham, which is twelve miles down the interstate. We talked about the family feud, and if anyone had the gumption to make the first move toward mending it.

After breakfast, I headed into downtown St. Elmo, all one block of it, to videotape the places that mattered in Billy’s life: his high school, the abandoned Elmo picture show, a mural on the side of the IGA where he worked as a teenager, the railroad crossing where his oldest brother, Charlie, was killed by a train.

I looked at the thermometer in my car. It read one hundred, but with the humidity, the weatherman listed the heat index at a million degrees. There were no pedestrians, few moving cars, and the town was dusty. Chris and Becky threw me a backyard barbeque. Most of us used the napkins to wipe the sweat off ourselves rather than food off our mouths.
• • • •

A large wheat-colored dog was galloping through the tall green timothy in the median of the highway in Missouri. I don’t know how he was able to dodge the speeding semis to get there, but I hoped for a shade tree and a bowl of water waiting for him when he decided to stop running.
• • • •

Just outside of Effingham, a large steel cross adorns the side of the interstate. The locals claim it’s the biggest one in America, but there’s an equally large cross on I-40 in Texas that’s preceded with two miles worth of billboards announcing itself as the Largest Cross in the Western Hemisphere. The only difference I noticed was the one in Texas had an adjacent gift shop.

I’m in Amarillo tonight lolling on a king sized bed, an air conditioner that works, and an internet connection. On a road dotted with scrub and sorrow, this is as good as it gets.

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Comments
wonderboynj From: wonderboynj Date: July 27th, 2005 12:53 am (UTC) (Link)
Have a safe journey home. Sorry that our paths haven't crossed, in real life yet :)
guysterrules From: guysterrules Date: July 29th, 2005 01:55 am (UTC) (Link)
Now that you're a New Yorker, it's only a matter of time before you come to LA.
ridiculicious From: ridiculicious Date: July 27th, 2005 12:54 am (UTC) (Link)
Road trips by one's self (especially across country) are hard. This I know.

Good luck with all the ghosts.
creactivity From: creactivity Date: July 27th, 2005 01:09 am (UTC) (Link)
You are quite possibly the most sentimental person I've ever "met." Billy is lucky to have you.
guysterrules From: guysterrules Date: July 29th, 2005 01:58 am (UTC) (Link)
Now that I'm back in SoCal, I have a feeling we'll actually meet.
creactivity From: creactivity Date: July 29th, 2005 02:07 am (UTC) (Link)
I have the exact same feeling. Let me know when you're settled in.
quuf From: quuf Date: July 27th, 2005 01:29 am (UTC) (Link)
I'm going to have to adjust to the idea of you being 400 miles south. My body is like a compass, and you have always been toward the end of my outstretched left arm. Now, you're down at my feet -- but only figuratively, since I look up to you.

Don't overdo it at Stuckey's.
guysterrules From: guysterrules Date: July 29th, 2005 01:59 am (UTC) (Link)
I have a pecan log with your name on it.
soul_spider From: soul_spider Date: July 27th, 2005 01:41 am (UTC) (Link)

It's kinda funny. I would say 'good-bye', but we never met so it doesn't seem quite right.

Have a safe trip home.
guysterrules From: guysterrules Date: July 29th, 2005 02:00 am (UTC) (Link)
I regret never meeting you. I hope your work brings you to LA.
ruralrob From: ruralrob Date: July 27th, 2005 01:48 am (UTC) (Link)
Good to hear from you td - and follow your journey home. Good luck on the rest of the way.
From: (Anonymous) Date: July 27th, 2005 02:06 am (UTC) (Link)
Godspeed. Thank you for your amazing narrative. I will miss you.
guysterrules From: guysterrules Date: July 29th, 2005 02:01 am (UTC) (Link)
I'm not going anywhere. I'll be right here.
gotu From: gotu Date: July 27th, 2005 04:09 am (UTC) (Link)
Sorry we didn't get the chance to say good-bye. You have become very special to us. Let's hope for no more broken hearts, no more regrets.

When you need a mountain and a river, come see us in Williamsport.
guysterrules From: guysterrules Date: July 29th, 2005 02:02 am (UTC) (Link)
There's always a need for a mountain and a river, and I wish your family well on the new home.
backawayslowly From: backawayslowly Date: July 27th, 2005 04:45 am (UTC) (Link)
Thanks for the update Terry. I've been thinking about you a LOT in the last week.

I look forward to catching up with you in California this fall.
cricketshay From: cricketshay Date: July 27th, 2005 04:52 am (UTC) (Link)

Safe Passage

I cried. I'll be sending out prayer vibes till you arrive in LA in one piece. *hugs*
discreet_chaos From: discreet_chaos Date: July 27th, 2005 10:36 am (UTC) (Link)
One form of art is a perfect circle and it sounds to me, you may be closing the loop. Everything old is new again. An ending is also a new beginning. Good luck. Drive safe and hopefully, you'll keep us informed.

PS) NM gas is less expensive than it is in AZ, you may want to keep this in mind.
guysterrules From: guysterrules Date: July 29th, 2005 02:05 am (UTC) (Link)
Thanks for the tip. I gassed up before I hit Winslow.
ubermunkey From: ubermunkey Date: July 27th, 2005 02:16 pm (UTC) (Link)
random rumblings
be safe
be well


cheers
calamityjake From: calamityjake Date: July 27th, 2005 02:34 pm (UTC) (Link)
Nicely written.

Have a safe trip.

PS: I noticed that Howie is in The Aristocrats.
guysterrules From: guysterrules Date: July 29th, 2005 02:12 am (UTC) (Link)
When is it opening? I've been hearing about this movie for years. I'm glad Provenza finally pulled it together.

ladycakes From: ladycakes Date: July 27th, 2005 06:09 pm (UTC) (Link)
Darlin, I hope you make it back to your homeland safe and sound.

I miss you.
twillhead From: twillhead Date: July 28th, 2005 09:38 pm (UTC) (Link)
I will miss the fact that you are no longer in the same time zone, but I'm happy for you that you're going home. Lots of hugs!
mengus From: mengus Date: July 30th, 2005 04:04 pm (UTC) (Link)

Fuck YES

On a road dotted with scrub and sorrow, this is as good as it gets.


Do I need to say anymore? God damn is that a great image.
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