In the early morning, the car still cold and covered in frost, the road before us stretched and meandered and got lost within itself. Dad always began a trip like this in silence, broken by a few snippets of sports talk or what have you, though he always opened up later on. The frost would melt and the car would warm and we would both open up to each other.
I’d just quit playing baseball at school, was thinking about college and growing up and never wanting to leave the tiny little corner of the world I’d made for myself. ‘Here’, I thought, ‘here is my place. My town, my house, my room, all of it was arranged for me and just for me.’
Dad had left the coast earlier in his youth, strung along by promises of solitude and stability. He’d married in his early twenties, and set about a career as a Geography professor at the local college. Work, it seemed, left him in a pensive mood most nights; the one constant of my youth, and life up to that point, had been reading. My Dad, as some would say, was a ‘reader’.
There was a room I’d ventured into, a room tucked in the far back corner of our little house. It wasn’t really near anything else, sort of an afterthought, really. Breaking the threshold, I stumbled in the dark and finally fumbled and found a switch for a light. Bathed in that particular golden hue of an old lightbulb were what were no less than hundreds of books, books of every kind. In the center of the room was a chair, and a pair of old reading glasses.
Dad would quote on those drives, quote the oldest and the newest and the greatest and the most unassuming pop culture. He was a man of other people’s words, filling like a reservoir and emptying as a sieve. He had other’s knowledge about everything, the life I was leading and where I should go and who we all were.
His favorite, though, was Steinbeck. Always had been, and was up until his death some years later. On those trips, we were Tom Joad and Preacher Casey. He’d instill in me an appreciation and respect for others that I realized was increasingly uncommon far too late. With the sun cresting the mountains and a valley welcoming us, he’d move onto philosophy.
Voltaire, his scissors as he cut away whatever frayed edges he could find upon my person. When we finally arrived, I was pure, concentrated and pushed from every direction into a nexus in my soul.
- West Virginia UniversityJournalism, 2008 - present
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