Remember when we stood outside the concert in NYC’s winter air with electric running threw our bodies.
The night was young in this city so we thought, “Why not live?”
Grabbing a subway to Columbia we met a boy you fancied. Snow began to fall.
The earth wasn’t fazed and neither were we.
Clock’s weight was lost.
Three of us gobbled shakes and pizza. Soon your lips were frantic around his; my mind lost in snow and current.
Skipping through streets the white thickened, our feet quickened.
Clock’s weight was found.
Tucking your boy back into his ivy tower we too flew.
Beating hearts and minds. No rhythm, no pathway.
Shoes schlepped in protest under ground. Lungs lagged.
Bodies pushed from marble to darken platforms.
Our last hope homeward bound seen.
Then doors closed. Fate sealed.
We falter. Despair fills aching bodies. Failure saturates minds.
Suddenly doors swing.Tough-love conductor calls out.
Final shot. We fly.
Last speck of energy depleted, we plummet into seats.
Drenched, joyful, alive.
Remember that night we lived?
She woke to the sound of metal framing shaking and the lights of the road below her. Darkness had fallen during her slumber but it still didn’t explain the rattle. Rolling to the edge of her make shift bunk bed Myra focused her eyes to the back of the RV where she saw her father’s bed empty.
That sight explained the noise.
As alertness returned to her body she began to fix her disheveled pieces. Bookmarking a slightly dented binding as she tucked it under the weathered mattress, and bending back her glasses to help Myra see as she dissented into the kitchen. With the whirl of blanket around her shoulders this young girl came to rest in the passenger seat.
“I thought you were going to wake me,” said Myra inquiringly.
“You said you were going to sleep instead of read another book,” said her father. He peered at her through judging eyes. “Just because you found a smaller reading light doesn’t mean I don’t notice. There is nothing in those things that this world can’t provide.”
“Don’t you realize that its against safety regulations to have someone sleeping in the bunk while driving,” said Myra. Sarcasm leaped off every syllable.
“Hey, this life is about chances. The exploration is worth it,” he said. “I would have hoped you learned that by now, or are you too caught up in books to notice.”
She fell silent.
In the years she had been on the road with her father it never felt like home. Rest stops and motor parks never held her. Her father seemed destined to be a rolling dice through life , but Myra always felt tethered by something more.
During a month long stop at Derby Park in Kentucky she learned to read from books in the mobile library. Bindings provided a sanctuary where the road lacked. The more Myra read the more certain the connection she could be found.
Lyonal never approved of books and classrooms, and preferred the road to human connection. Pursuing adventures in an RV across America was his was of educating Myra of the same.
“So, what is the next stop,” she whispered.
“Well riding 94 we should reach West Fargo by breakfast,” his voice rasped in response. “Passing through was the plan if that what your really nudging at.”
“Is there a plan for what stops next?”
The carvings across his face depend as he titled towards the night covered road.
“Morris for a week,” he rasped. “But you should better than to ask for a plan.”
“I didn’t ask for a life plan just wondering what’s next,” said Myra sighing deeply.
Her body shuffled under the blanket making room for her chicken legs to curl under her. Making herself small was one of the few comforts Myra had in the world outside books.
“I know better to ask for more,” she said sadly.
Lyonal grumbled along with the engine as torpedoed toward dawn.
He couldn’t imagine any life but this. Yet she was roped to something more even as she coasted to sleep in the passenger seat.
At 7p.m. I did rounds of the whole building. The silence of the walls was getting to me so I figured faces and warm bodies would help. Thank God that there is three whole people left to provide that service to me, even though I am suppose to provide service to them. Go figure.
Go figure, with budget cuts and national deficit and New York State raising SUNY tuition and God knows what else. Go figure that with all that we can still have hours to better serve the population, meaning three people I counted, that need this library to run.
After finishing my round I quickly grabbed some stale pretzels from the faculty lounge and a vitamin water for sustenance before I raced back to my perched post. Leaving such this post unattended for too long could be fatal to the patrons’ needs.
Within less than five minutes my lucky fourth warm body walked in the door. His young face lookd lucky too; disheveled from blond hair to Salvo sneakers, worn sleep bag on his back, and xeroxes of important documents in Ziploc with a broken seal. The remaining proof lies with his worn copied license which says California but his worn thumbs say no where.
Here for now gone tomorrow.
“How’d you make it cross country?” I asked.
“Used my thumb a little; hoofed it a little,” he said.
The smile on his face says simple he is proud of his work, and I smiled back proud of it too.
You have to be smart to cross the country with just the contents of a backpack. He could have been a model or a lawyer making big money out in the world. Instead he had a backpack, sleeping bag, water bottle and a Ziploc full of xeroxes.
He learned to live without anything, and maybe we should too. Deficits, layoffs, and hiring freezes are too much. Jobs are important but maybe we too need to learn how to survive. Our excess is overpowering our necessity to the point that we don’t know what need even means.
Christopher McCandless searched for the meaning of the essentials, truth and happiness. After graduating at 22-years-old, he burned his money and identification,and huffed it. From his graduation in May 1990 to his death in April 1992 Chris sought that truth out in the wild. The soil was his bed and the maps were his only bearings.
It was drastic, but it he made sure that he only carried his essentials as he searched for truth and happiness.
Maybe that’s all we need. Maybe that’s all I need at I sat in the chilled place watching the clock now read 8:30 p.m. Time to start closing up shop. A shop that I wonder should still me open, as lucky number four just walked out.
The rain bombared the car. Louder than my senses could take after the long day of driving and traffic.
New Jersey was getting the best of my nerves. The throbbing was increase with every moment I sat with my head against the steering wheel; with every second he started at the back of my head
The car surrounded me with smell of the fresh wood of the desk that I had just bought. Ikea packaging afforded me the luxury of being a perfect fit in the back of the car, barely. It seemed like a minor victory.
It didn’t deter for the ache in my stomach though nor the presume from your stare. It was hard to ignore how much of a failure I was in that moment.
I wanted to run into a rain to be free. But my hands were welded to the steering wheel. My body was magnetized to yours. My brain was caught in the failure and you refused to relinquish me.
Then I lifted my shaking frame and shifted the gears.
An Indian boy skipped through the library. The warm weather must have tickled his bones.
The sun gleamed between the concrete slabs of the rigid library. All the librarians were dressed for the occasion.
Coasting cars gyrated music from open windows.
Finally spring warmth enjoyed between raindrops.
© Terra Thompson