A 3.5 hour drive for the simplest of simple desires
|I was 40, but the next day, I would be 41. I hadn't seen the ocean with my own eyes since I was 15. I was born by the sea, and the sea was in me, but I was stuck with the city where my mother grew up. I honestly shouldn't say "stuck". Austin and the surrounding area wasn't so bad when I was a kid. But then, everyone wanted "progress". So they brought in technology, changed our culture, and stole our way of life and made it "weird".
So, I had enough. I got up the morning before I was 41 and drove. I passed Giddings, Brenham, Houston... I drove without stopping till I found my little town. I had seen it in a magazine and decided I wanted to live there. Or at least visit. But everything shut down, everyone was scared. I was pushed into a life I couldn't take any more of...
I stopped to stretch my legs, fill my gas tank, and finally find a ladies room. The people were friendly, and the people I needed to see. Normal, hard working folks who just wanted to live, who didn't worry, and who just loved where they were. People from all walks of life - young and old, men and women, rich and poor, and every color and creed you can imagine. Except the liquor store, I was told they weren't as friendly there.
I was famished and had lunch at a place on a pier that I had looked into months ahead. They sat me near the docks and I laughed to myself as a gull flew over with his lunch - followed by 73 more screaming seagulls. Pelicans knocked seagulls off of piers, boats puttered into the docks. Tug boats barreled through the bay in the distance and cargo ships strode through the blurry distance. I was home. For the first time I could remember, I was home.
Maybe I'll just stay, kept this thought as I sat, enjoying iced tea and a blistering hot serving of bread pudding. I'm not supposed to eat that way, but I was living, so I did it anyway. I knew I couldn't stay. My mother and dogs were back near Austin, and I couldn't just stay in a place where I had no roots.
But it was a tempting thought. I even drove around looking at houses, dreaming about what it would be like to live here or there. I wandered down to a tiny beach, painted by the locals and God's own hand. Like a five year old, I chased a lone gull who wandered around. Like the paparrazzi, I just wanted his picture, but apparently he wasn't excited about it.
From the beach, I grabbed a few prizes, and pondered leaving my own. I figure I will do that later, though - take my own trinket to leave for another lost soul to find. Then, I jumped in my little black car with Van Halen on the speakers and the windows rolled down, and back through Houston, Pasadena, and the rest. Back to the makeshift home where I've spent most of my years.
"Well, why would you go all that way just to eat and wander around?"
It's all I wanted. I needed the sea. I needed the gulls and their weird habits, and the sleepy pelicans. I needed the locals and their odd-ball way of life. I needed to go home, even if home was a place I had never seen.
And some day, I'm going to go back and then... then I'll stay.