The TripBy Brian Keen
Terry picked me up at three-fifteen. He is one of my best friends, though I don't always treat him as such. He has this incredible knack for listening. He honestly listens to what you're saying and seems to be genuinely interested. I think that's what I admire most about him. Listening is one of the great lost arts. Everyone wants to talk but no one wants to listen.
Today we are going for a ride, a trip if you will. Terry's car is sharp. It's a red Cadillac El Dorado. I love the leather interior. I don't get the chance to ride in a car this nice, very often. Terry's life is all so structured. He has the nice car, the beautiful wife and kid, all sheltered from the world in their large home. Nothing can hurt them. I live by the seat of my pants. I just get by. I am single and live alone. In some ways I envy Terry and in others I don't. I enjoy my freedom.
We are riding with the windows down. The breeze feels great on such a hot day. The radio's blaring out an old Tesla tune. There is nothing but fields of green surrounding our concrete pathway. They go on forever like an endless ocean chasing the clouds. I look down at Terry's speedometer. We're going eighty, though it feels like fifty. We're floating on air.
Riding in the country forces you to think. The sun, the fields, and this cool summer breeze are all working on me. They're unwrapping my memory. Despite my efforts, I'm thinking of Andrea. She loved the country. We used to go horseback riding on days like this. She grew up riding horses. I can still see her blonde locks of hair bouncing in the glow of the summer sun. We would probably be married by now and have a couple of rugrats running through the house. I don't talk about her, not even to Terry. I thought the pain would never go away but one day I just woke up and decided that I didn't want to feel sorry for myself anymore.
We're going to stop at the store and get something to drink. I look at the different faces, faces that I will never see again. I look in their eyes. Are they happy? Many of them don't seem to be. Their faces are expressionless. They look right through me. They seem to be just as much a stranger in this town as I am. I bet if they came to my town and looked at me, they'd think the same thing.
We all need a trip away, every now and then. Its like an out of body experince. It helps you gain perspective. I look at my life and it seems so unfullfilling, pointless even. I had forgotten there was a world out here, beyond my job, my hometown and my television. I would like to go home a different person but these rejuvenations only last so long. Right now my tank is full but how long will it last? It can empty out so quickly.
My other friend, Joe, should have came along. If anyone needs a trip, its Joe. A lot of people dislike him. I think they mistake his bitterness and discontent for hatefullness. Its hard to hide all that emptiness and some people don't recognize it when it leaks out. The eyes tell the story. You just have to look at the eyes.
At the center of Joe's unhappiness is his wife. She refuses to work, refuses to go out, and refuses to live. She is out of life and each day, just to survive, she sucks a breath of life out of him. I fear he's running out as well. When that happens, they'll both die.
The sun is falling slowly from the sky and it's time to go home. Terry looks hopeful. He has a family to go home to. I, on the other hand, could stay here forever. I could drive from town to town, reading people's faces, invading their lives. I could sleep in a different bed each night. My house is just a house. It hasn't been a home since Andrea's death. I sleep on the couch. The bed holds too many reminders. Terry's car pulls into my driveway and suddenly I am back. Like a dream, the trip is over and already, I miss it. Someday I will get my nerve up and drive away in my own car, escaping this harsh reality, creating a future, while erasing a past. Yeah, someday.