”Remember only that you are not always going where you are going for the reasons you think you are.” – Rabbi Kushner
A very Rabbi-sounding statement indeed. And as I continue to breathe in all that was my travels around the country the past month and more, this is also a statement true to the trip.
I’ve traveled before and for as long, but most of those trips were getting to somewhere, means to an end. This trip was casual work that had me in many places, in many lives, while not preoccupied with my “next” task. But if you were to ask me the reason for me being in each of those places that might be something I never fully know, although, I will speculate.
I’d like to think four days in Indianapolis wasn’t just to sell cookies, cause I gotta tell ya… Indianapolis is NOT on my list of favorite towns. (I am being nice). Nor is driving across the Midwest, ever, ever a fav. But I never saw fall colors for so long in so many places as I did starting in Kansas City.
Stopping in Nashville on my way to Memphis was so I could see my old friend Eric Peters and Fam . But it wasn’t ‘till I got home that there were other reasons too. One of which was to continue to support Eric in making his next album; because he's a poet and an artist - has been since we first met 15 years ago, and we need more poets in the world.
And then there’s Memphis. Home of Graceland and all things Blues. I was just there to trade trucks with Harmon and kill time, I thought. In reality, I was on the receiving end of true-blue Southern Hospitality at the hands of Harmon’s Mom; getting to hear bits and pieces of her story, life since her husband died a year ago; how she knits hats for homeless people, “Because I have all the time in the world and gotta do something with it.” Not to mention I experienced the Obama victory in a town split nearly along racial lines as much as party lines, with years of racist skeletons in the closet.
Now I knew I wasn’t going to Little Rock just to sell cookies. I was revisiting my past, and my mother’s past at that. I was given the gift of “family” by my friends Brad and Coco Scruggs; hearing more of Coco’s fight with Breast Cancer; reliving childhood with Brad. They live next to my Mom’s old home, the place where both her parents lived their final days. Traveling around my mother’s old stomping grounds as an adult opened the door to conversations that no one could plan; giving history to her story… and my heritage.
I am sure there was some reason in Tyler, but I won’t speculate.
Being back in Texas, though, provided more reasons than I could shake a stick at. It wasn’t only for my sanity that I ran sunsets around Town Lake. From my friends there that shared time with me I was taught humanity again, that we are worth far more than we give ourselves credit; given insight into my subconscious and into the life of a singer/songwriter making a go of it in Austin, and beyond that; that guys and beer long into the night is priceless for the soul; and some dinners need no time constraints in order to reconnect with old friends. If I hadn’t been so exhausted by my last night in Dallas, I’d have never written ”Rudy”. finding a place in my heart for a boy I’ve never met.
When I stepped out the door in October to start that trip, I am sure I had my reasons, none of which came close to the ones that showed themselves over the following weeks, and will continue to in the days ahead. Just as the Rabbi speaks truth, so does that old Hobbit say as much in a different way:
“It's a dangerous thing, stepping out your door…You step into a road and if you don't keep your feet there is no telling where you might be swept off to.”