this was written by a very talented friend of mine. she’s a veteran of the army and she wrote this piece in memory of a friend of hers from base on the third anniversary of his death.
i don’t even remember where i left off…nearly a year ago. i know that buggs and i were somewhere on one of our road trips. my best guess is that we were driving back from staying with p**l for a month in montana going back to nevada.
my god, so many things, people, dogs, places and landscapes have changed in what seems like a flash. i have had some of the most awesome experiences with my co-pilot and my co-co-pilot…as well as some of the most trying and frustrating.
on my way back from montana, yellowstone in fall was so picturesque. idaho seemed like what i imagined the garden of eden to be like. then, there were arizona and nevada…the devil’s land…dry, dusty, dirty desert.
i was sleep sick. i was pounding coffee and blaring billy joel trying to keep my eyes open. a sign said, “virgin valley, winding roads next 13 miles, no stopping or pulling off of road.” i was fighting my eyelids while, “only the good die young,” blared on.
i wasn’t going to make it. i pulled the car over on some rocks, turned it off and made sure that buggs was in the shade and had water. my window was partially rolled down and it was hot!! i was wearing a charcoal colored t-shirt and didn’t care. i just slept.
in my dreams, billy joel just kept singing, “only the good die young” and every once in a while i’d hear someone yell out, “wake up.” i kept sleeping…until a big voice shrieked, “wake up!!” i felt a heaviness on my chest and my eyes shot open.
buggs was standing on my chest staring at me. he was ready to get rolling and it was no small feat to try to get back onto the road with nothing but blind curves. i began driving and began feeling an intense burning and stinging pain in my upper left flank.
the pain was nearly unbearable and the sun made it worse. i noticed the needle on the gas tank edging itself closer and closer to the big red “e.” i began doing calculations in my mind. “my tank can go about 27 more miles once it hits empty…”
“gas is $3.00 a gallon and i have exactly $1.76 in dirty pennies that i scavenged from my floorboards. my car gets 25 miles to the gallon. so, right now my car says i have 39 miles + 27 miles + 13 miles = about 79 miles worth of gas that i have…”
“i need about 99 miles worth of gas to get me to las vegas and about 109 miles worth to get me to henderson. well, i’m going to have to kramer this (kramer was a character on seinfeld that test drove a car on a single tank of gas until it could go no more.).”
i stopped to get gas and gave the clerk my 176 dirty pennies. then, I made a detour to the restroom to find out what was going on with the terrible pain in my flank. i lifted my shirt and saw the craziest thing…bubbled up, charred skin…like a brand.
it was in the form of (believe it or not) an upside down “v” and it happened in the virgin valley. a nurse later told me that the glass from the window acted like a magnifying glass with the hot sun and i was very lucky that my shirt didn’t catch on fire.
i went back outside and put our $1.76 worth of gas into the tank, got inside the car and said a little prayer. i really don’t know how we did it but we were driving on fumes the whole way without air-conditioning and we made it back to henderson.
you know who you are…
it’s neither here, nor there…
you’re neither close, nor far…
wishing you love and good health…
blessings of joy and peace of mind…
the past is the past…
i just wanted to be kind…
today marks the end of the second chapter and the beginning of the third chapter of this book that we are writing together.
it’s hard to believe that it has been 730 days…17,520 hours…1,051,200 minutes…63,072,000 seconds and you have been by my side through it all.
we have traveled 55,000 miles together…explored 35 states…used 2,200 gallons of gasoline…and spent about $6,050 on fuel.
we have gone on photographic expeditions and have taken thousands of photos…we have collected rocks, leaves, coasters and postcards.
we have feasted on cheese curds at sheetz and peruvian food at chantilly bakery in new jersey. we gobbled down the best pizza ever in new york.
you have taken me on one trip to minnesota and two trips to pennsylvania…as well as so many trips to disneyland that i lost count.
you have held my hand through difficult situations. you have been the ever present calm voice of reason, encouragement and support for me.
you are the first person i think of when i wake up in the morning and the last person that my mind dwells on as i fall asleep.
i have given you my heart and mind…they belong to you now. you are the person that i waited my whole life for…that’s why i chose you.