Wednesday, April 9, 2014

Day 155 - April 4th

Clayton, Shawn and I awoke in our luxurious cottage granted to us by the innkeeper, Cindy. We dawdled as we packed our gear and slowly ate breakfast around the central table. I’m sure we were all conscious of the fact that this was our last morning together. I know my mind was certainly returning frequently to the awareness of my impending solitude. From here on, I am on my own and without the comforting idea that some of my people might join me on the road ahead. I am officially out of range.
Still, this knowledge didn’t spoil our last hours. It’s hard to be glum when two of your best friends are near. Around 11 a.m. we returning our key to Cindy and headed to a lunch place called Werner’s. The plan was to meet Jackie and Chris for lunch because they were gracious enough to evacuate Shawn and Clayton to the airport in Austin. We sat around the table as the lunch crowd filtered in, then out. Our friendly waitress Krista refilled our coffee and called us “Sugar.”
When Chris and Jackie arrived we ate together and related our recent adventures. They brought us photocopies of the flattering story written about us in the New Braunfels paper which you can read below. Eventually, it was time to say goodbye and I walked out of Shiner. (Jackie and Chris sent me off with a package of baked goodies!) Shawn, Clayton, thanks for boosting me through Texas.
We are handsome. Because I'm taking a photo of a photocopy, this article isn't as clear as I'd like it to be, but the online version is locked behind a subscription paywall. Sorry!

For the next few hours, I walked embattled by emotions I didn’t understand. Uncertain about my commitment to growth and whether or not this walk is working, doubtful about all I had taken to be the case. Maybe there are no permanent answers. 

I had just resigned myself to the company of myself from here on to New York when I discovered I was wrong! I won’t be alone! 8 miles outside of Shiner, I came across a gas station called Blase’s Place. Surprised to find a business so far from town, I decided to pop in for a few minutes before skedaddling into the woods to sleep. Best decision ever. Upon opening the glass door with a tinkle from the bell, I squeezed into the room with my pack and looked up to see about 10 heads swivel towards me.
“Umm, hi!” I said cheerfully, flashing my most winningest smile. A general murmur of response greeted me in return and I walked towards the drink section. I glanced over at the people sitting nearest and initiated conversation. I’m glad I did because this is how I met Carrie, Bernard and Darcy. Carrie purchased my drink and I sat down with them.
Carrie is tall and blonde, a fierce woman who wields a no-nonsense demeanor and an acerbic intelligence. She majored in Anthropology, owned a bar, served as a police officer and is now studying stenography in addition to being a single parent to two kids. It’s an impressive resume. I got along with her extremely well and enjoyed listening to her opinions. I learned very quickly not to trifle with her over her libertarian views as I am not nearly so full of conviction about my own politics.
Bernard, Carrie’s friend, is a gentle, good natured man who grew up in Lavaca County but has traveled and worked in Mexico and Cuba among others. I didn’t learn much about his past but it seems to have been fairly wild and eventful. He sounds a lot like Foghorn Leghorn, a resemblance which I informed him of once we got to know each other better. I learned many Texan things from him, particularly fried pork ribs, corned beef hash, the difference between Bohemian and Czech, and the region’s anti-intellectual bent. Carrie tells me Bernard is one of the smartest people she knows but that anyone who’s smart is forced to play dumb or otherwise stifle any expression of their intelligence. Apparently “acting smart” is looked down upon and the culture cultivates this attitude.
Half an hour later, Darcy joined us. She is dating Bernard and she started the area’s first ever winery. They both work at the winery but Darcy knows the ins and outs of the business and winemaking. She brought with her a bottle of her mango-habanero wine which was extraordinarily odd yet tasty. Darcy grew up in upstate New York and graduated from Boston College. She is the mother of two kids from a previous marriage, Schuyler (SKY-ler) and Gwen. There were actually 4 other kids milling about Blase’s Place, two of which were Carrie’s, but I didn’t get to know them until later at Darcy’s winery, which is where I eventually ended up staying for the night! 
Within two hours of meeting these wonderful people, I was bumping down the road to the winery with Darcy, Bernard and the kids. What a turn of emotion from how I had been feeling earlier, certain I was doomed to be alone forever!
The winery is located in the middle of verdant grassland and wildflowers, the gentle hills sprinkled with trees and the occasional residence. It’s the moments after emerging from the car that I recall with the most fondness, and also regret that they can’t be replicated. Almost immediately I was being literally bombarded by nearly a dozen puppies. All 6 kids too were in the middle of this tornado of cuteness. The oldest boys Schuyler (12) and Austin (10) mostly kept to themselves, preoccupied as they were with building a No-Girls hangout and defending it from intruders, but the younger girls Gwen (9), Emma (7) and Adison (5?) and young master Brodan (6?) piled puppies into my lap and onto my head. I was suddenly “in” with the kids too.  
Soon we were playing tag or “catch the crazy hitchhiker” and hide-and-seek. There is something about the open hearts of the kids that has been a balm to my loneliness. Maybe it was the way they glommed to my legs like boots as I walked around. Maybe it was how I scooped them up and ran them about the yard at twilight, all of us giggling and breathless. Or maybe it had something to do with the way they held my hand as they led me across the fields. They accepted me without reservation even though I was a brand-new stranger.
When I just couldn’t run anymore, I rejoined the adults on the winery deck for Bernard’s specialty Bloody Mary. Normally I don’t like Bloody Mary’s but somehow I rather liked these ones. Carrie was there along with Gary, another friend of Darcy’s and Bernard’s. Gary works 12 hour days for Dow Chemical at a plant that is 1 hour and 20 minutes away! The rest of the evening was divided between drinking and talking with the adults and the kids who would inevitably drag me away towards something I had to see. At this point it had been decided amongst themselves that they preferred my name to be Bob or Steve the girl because of my long hair. Sally also became a favorite. But once the evening dwindled down, Bernard set me up with a cot inside the cozy winery and I crashed.


  1. ...a couple tears...Children and laughter are good medicine!