The road can be kind to a driver sometimes, but more often it can be a cruel SOB. Things happen out there, lots of things. I tell people about my adventures, and for the most part they believe me, no matter how bizarre it sounds. Yet sometimes, even good friends have their doubts about all the odd people I meet, the strange encounters I have, the car accidents I get into.
I document what happens to me in these blogs just as they occurred. But I’ve come to the conclusion that telling all the bad things to friends, no matter how honest I am being, isn’t always the greatest idea. It casts a large shadow of doubt, and makes folks wonder if I’m crazy or just have an overactive imagination. Or that maybe I’m just looking for sympathy. None of which is true. The truth is simply that I get very lonely out on the highways of America, and at times I need to unload to those who I believe care about me. This has been misunderstood and misinterpreted, and makes me think I need to keep everything to myself. Or if I must talk about things, it is best to keep it in the blogs.
Last weekend, I was headed towards New Jersey, where my old friend Ed lives. I’ve stayed at his house many times over the years as I’ve driven through, and he has always made me very welcome in his home. As soon as I knew I’d be going there, I called him to let him know. But I just kept on getting his voicemail. Ed stays busy at work, so I figured I’d just go to his place, and either he would be there or he would not. I had no doubt that if he were there, I’d be welcome to crash on his couch.
When I pulled into his driveway, Ed was there washing his car in the driveway. He saw me and his shoulders sagged. He turned off the garden hose then ran out to my car and hopped into the passenger seat. “Hey, Bill.”
“Hi. What’s going on?”
“Let’s take a drive. I need to get something at the store.”
I drove down the street, and could feel some tension coming from my friend. “Is everything OK?”
Ed paused then let out a sigh. “No, not really. I got your calls, but hoped if I didn’t call you back you’d think I was out of town.”
I chuckled. “Really? Why?”
“This isn’t working out, Bill. You can’t keep coming and staying at my house.”
“I never knew it was a problem.”
“It never was.”
“I haven’t been here in months.”
“True enough. But before that, you were coming once or twice every month for a while.”
“Yeah, well whatever the reason, Diane was getting weary of seeing you too often.”
“Ed, I thought your wife liked me.”
“She does, she does… but you are an old friend of mine, so it’s more like she doesn’t mind having you around for my sake. But…”
“The structure of our house is wide open. Diane had me remove all doors for some feng shui design idea. With all doors open, your snoring rocks the house.”
I hung my head. “Sorry.”
“It’s not your fault. But it can make it hard to sleep. You need to be in a room with a closed door so others can sleep. I can’t provide that.”
“Anything else?” I asked.
Ed nodded sadly. “I think the last straw was when you came a few months ago, and Diane woke up and looked out the window. She saw you peeing in the moonlight out in our backyard, and I think it freaked her out.”
“You had told me before that when I walked down the hall to use the bathroom, which is next to your bedroom, the floor creaking and the toilet flushing woke you up. So I decided to creep out the back door.”
“I know you were trying to be thoughtful, but bottom line—“
“Is that I’ve crossed the line. Got it. What store do you need to go to?”
Ed shrugged. “No store. Just an excuse for us to take a drive and talk.”
“So back to your house?”
“Yeah, if you don’t mind. Diane has a long ‘honey-do’ list for me. I’ll be lucky to get half of what she wants done this weekend. I have no idea how I’m going to fit in at least one football game.” We drove back to the house in silence. Ed rubbed his hands together. “Bill, I didn’t want to hurt your feelings.”
I pulled into the driveway and put the car into Park. I reached over and squeezed Ed on the shoulder. “You have been a very good friend to me for many years. You let me stay at your house dozens of times, more times than I can count. You owe me no explanations or apologies.”
“I feel for you, though. You don’t have a home, you just drive around the country and barely tread water to survive.”
“It’s all part of my life.”
“I read all of your blogs, I don’t know how you keep from going crazy.”
“I meet a lot of nuts, that’s for sure. But I also meet a lot of kind people. In this crazy messed up world, it gives me hope. I just know there is a reason for me to be out here.
And it is pretty obvious that God is watching over me. Some people don’t believe a lot of the things that happen to me. So many crazy people, road rage drivers, loony people crossing my path, car accidents.”
“Car accidents? Buddy, after being on the road driving for ten years, I’m shocked you haven’t been in more accidents, with more serious damage. Anyone who doesn’t understand that doesn’t know you well enough.”
I smiled. “Hell no. And this in no way affects our friendship.”
“Good, because you mean a lot to me and I never want to lose you.”
“And you never will.”
“Maybe sometime when Diane leaves town to visit her family in Oregon you can come by again.”
“Maybe. We’ll see.”
“I love you, bro.”
“I love you, too, Ed. Always will.”
I slept in the back seat of the car at a Rest Stop on the New Jersey turnpike that night. No, I didn’t feel bitter. If anything, I felt extra blessed that I have so many friends all over the USA who have made me welcome again and again in their homes. Got to do something about that snoring problem, though.