The Nice Thing About Strangers

Creative Non-Fiction Short Stories. :) Travel, Oldsters, Love, and Compassion.

Let it Roll

For the final day of a cross-country trip, I had to drive across all of Kansas and through half of Colorado. Just after leaving Kansas City, a motorcycle passed me. It was an orange Harley, the driver was helmetless, but wearing a black cap. Later, in the usual movements of traffic, I passed him back. He remained behind me, perhaps pleased with my speed and because my car worked as a semi-effective bug screen. For almost two hours, he stayed in my tailwind. When I turned on my blinker to pass someone ahead, he replied in kind. When I returned to the right lane, he swayed along with me. I grew accustomed to having him in my rearview mirror.

His long goatee flapped in the wind on either side of his face like a set of grey ribbons. I liked the idea that he trusted my skills as a driver and let me lead. Passing Manhattan, I called “EMAW!” (Every Man a Wildcat) at several signs for the University, because I remain so fond of my years at Kansas State. I knew I’d need coffee soon, so I prepared to part with my rolling companion at the second exit for Junction City. However, at the first exit, he put out his arm to signal his turn. I thought he was waving at me. So I waved back somewhat wildly, hoping the tinted windows wouldn’t obstruct my “So Long, Farewell.”

Suddenly, I felt a huge grief. I started to weep. I took the second exit, drove through for coffee, sniffing so much that the woman at McDonald’s felt moved to give me an “aww, you okay, hon?” and extra napkins. I rolled forward, feeling silly, and as I approached the road, something across the street caught my eye. There was my biker buddy. He was at a gas station. As I began to laugh, he looked up from the pump and squinted. I sped into the gas station parking lot, “Hi! I’m Paige!”

He blinked his blue eyes, “Oh, when I pulled off I saw you waving at me!” He had stopped for fuel, but didn’t find a station at the first exit, “Then lo and behold, I look up and there you are.”

“I am really not a crazy person, really. I just, I was so sad when you turned. I thought I was losing my guardian angel.”

“No worry of that.” He laughed. He was stopping here to see his mother today, so I waved again and headed home. I can’t explain why it was so nice to have a biker on my bumper, or why I cried again when I got back on the Interstate. Perhaps I missed Kansas, or felt sentimental about my grandparents who came from there. Perhaps the last 600 miles of a 3,600 mile solo roadtrip would be enough to make anyone crack. I vaguely remember Saint Teresa of Avila wrote, “We cry because God gives us tears.” I suppose that’s as good of an explanation as any that come to mind–even after a few weeks of reflection.

–Kansas City to Junction City, KS

BSA Baby. My niece. No worries about her adorable feet. The bike isn't warm.

BSA Baby. My niece. No worries about her adorable feet. The bike isn’t warm.

6 comments on “Let it Roll

  1. Eric Tonningsen
    June 8, 2016

    For me, it’s just nice to experience random connections, even if fleeting. 🙂

    • This one turned out to be less fleeting than I expected. Running into him at the gas station was eerie! 🙂
      Have a lovely week, Eric–

  2. Carl
    June 8, 2016

    Awwwww, Paige! A delightful read!

  3. Wendy Weinhold
    June 9, 2016

    Lovely story, dearest. It’s fun to create narratives when you’re on the road alone, and it’s sad when those stories end. XOXO

  4. Wendy Weinhold
    June 9, 2016

    Also I’m very curious…where did this journey start from? 3,000 miles!

    • Colorado to Vermont and back again. 🙂 DId a few readings along the way and passed out my book to nice people at various gas stations. Speech trained me well for it!

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This entry was posted on June 8, 2016 by in Happiness, Inspiration, Travel, USA, Writing and tagged , , .

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