St. Louis to Oklahoma City
– 6:35 PM, sat down in the back of the bus hoping to be left alone. I was. Digging in my backpack, I saw Sam Shepards’s new volume of stories purchased in New York. Not even cracked. Will filled my time the previous day. Not wanting to sit in my own melancholy, I began to read as the bus pulled away. The sun blushed on its fall behind the horizon.
The setting was perfect for this type of a read. Mr. Shepard’s stories were of beheadings, long car trips and youth lost to a life long-lived. A day ago, these would have been entertaining and possibly thought provoking but their deeper meanings lost to my linear need to find answers.
In his prose, Mr. Shepard seems to float in the past while remaining grounded in the present. I, who feel out of time, need order. He is Bird to my Soussa, able to float on riffs only he can hear while I march to the heavy beat of a bass drum. My time with Will had broken my rhythm. I was more accepting of this prose. I did not always have to know a stories meaning but could now allow it to just affect me.
That’s what I did throughout the evening. I read. I read things unimportant to my work. Things that made me think not about me but about life, about the living. About what life is outside of my little sphere of experience.
I cleaned up a bit in the washroom and then bought a large coffee and some type of breakfast sandwich. I sat and read while I ate. Shepard is very bittersweet in this volume. I was hit hard and fast by one story’s theme about the desperation of not being like one’s father. I put down the book. For the first time, I realized my whole existence was that of an orphan.
This may seem obvious to everyone else but right then, it struck me like a jolt from a live wire. And then, I don’t know where they came from … tears. Crying. Me. Into my coffee, tears dropped from my cheeks. Luckily, I was in a corner and so turned away to regain control of myself.
I wanted a father. I wanted someone to explain what life was all about from their own personal perspective. Mr. Shepard’s narrator had railed against being like the man who sired him yet in the end, they were one and the same. This was a realization I would never be able to come to terms with. I had no father. And this thought cut me so deeply, I wasn’t sure I could recover.
Then I met Beth and Sissy.