Thoughts sometimes need thinking on my own, under the sky with nowhere to go. I took my keys, went down the elevator, and waited while the guys found my car in the parking lot. Then I headed out to drive south by the lake until I found out where I was going.
Those are the best trips, the one’s with the top down, the sun up, and the lake there beside me, with music playing. Today it was a mix of my favorites from college.
I hardly saw the things passing by me, until I realized that I was driving toward where my father grew up. I was on these strange Illinois back roads. It wound and turned and did everything a little car like mine loves. I, of course, had no idea where I was, except that cornfields of Illinois were all around me.
An hour later, I was at the stream, a small river really. It had to be "the stream." My dad had only told the story once and said not to repeat it. It was about how as a boy he saved another boy’s life. He said that’s why we bought cars three towns over. That boy had grown up to sell cars for a living. He and my dad never lost track of each other.
I sat by the stream and watched a snake go into the little river. Fifteen minutes later, I saw a turtle come out of the water. A few birds came by to check out who I was, but they didn’t find me as interesting as I found them.
Eventually, I moved on and ended up on the rollercoaster road where my dad took a short cut. It was the famous shortcut that took two hours longer. I remembered how much my brothers and I loved it, and how much it didn’t impress my mother.
I ended up in a village I’d never seen. The remarkable thing was a church too large for the size of the stores and the houses. It looked like it belonged in Europe, in Italy, not Illinois. I figured some Immigrant's son must have built it. The explorer in me couldn’t resist an old church. My car brought me to on an adventure. I tested the door, and with all of my weight, I got it to open. I went into the quiet. It was quiet.
Inside it was even more European. It so reminded me of my dad’s handwriting. His European work ethic. His deep feelings. I sat inside it as if in his heart.
A light shined in. It filled me up.
My car had found the perfect destination. I stayed until the light faded.
I got in my car drove back on the rollercoaster highway, laughing to think of how my dad shared his life with us, how he soften my mother's rough edges.
Life and light are the gift of a saloonkeeper’s daughter.
−me strauss Letting me be