Whatever way the wind blows
Last week was strange and wonderful.
on Tuesday evening, I was settling in for some late night television and maybe a too large bowl of ice cream, when my mobile rang. I didn’t recognize the number and was about to ignore the call, when Sheryl informed me it was her mother calling. I answered. I can’t recall the exact words she spoke first, but in my memory, the conversation goes something like this-
“Hello, would you like to go on an adventure?”
“Mary and Jason are stranded in Roswell and need rescuing. I need a second driver. Would you be willing to come along?”
Sure. When do you want to leave?
“Oh, either tonight or early tomorrow.”
All the best adventures begin this way.
When I was younger, it wasn’t uncommon to head out someplace with very little planning. Those sorts of adventures were often a great deal shorter in distance than a drive to Roswell, but once, Sheryl and I took a day trip (on an itch I needed to scratch) to Brianhead with only some gas money and a vague idea of when we might be home. We were dating then, and the entire enterprise seemed so grown-up, a bit dangerous, certainly more adventurous than either of us had been before.
On my LDS mission, I would often go whichever way the wind (or other visiting missionaries) would take me. we traveled the spaces between townships, experiencing the entirety of New Hampshire and Maine, even taking excursions to Boston and Vermont. These are some of my happiest memories from that time, and are the main reasons I fell in love with New England. I learned to love the rolling roads, the sudden curves, canopies of trees that covered the roadways. Most of the time, these trips had a destination, but with the exception of Boston, the drives themselves, the conversations and relationships built were the point.
I experienced this type of connection again on my adventure through New Mexico.
I have known my in-laws for over 20 years and feel like they are as much my family as my own parents and siblings. More times than I can count, these wonderful people (and their children and their spouses) have come to my rescue, helped me move, fixed things around my house, attended events for my children, etc. When I first married Sheryl, we were offered the use of a 3 bedroom house in Provo, nearly free of rent. It was my introduction to the unconditional love that pours out from the Kemptons. While I knew about the compassion and charity of my mother and father in-law, I knew very little about them beyond some basic where and when sort of things.
This trip changed that.
My mother in-law and I spent two days together, driving, talking, sharing. After all this time, I finally feel like I know her. Maybe it would be better to say I feel like I finally understand her. That seems more accurate. We drove without the presence of any distractions- No music, no one else in the car- for the entire drive down. We drove through beautiful and bland countryside, through towns and cities, and finally, through the flat lands near and around Roswell. We conversed until our throats were sore. We shared stories and feelings, motivations and moments that shaped our lives. There was no judgment, no uncomfortable topics. It was very much like the road trips I remembered from New England. It was equally fulfilling.
We rescued Mary and Jason, filling the van with their things and their children, then driving back to Utah with everyone safe and sound. I am forever grateful for accepting the offer to go on such a fantastic adventure, and I am equally grateful for the chance to give a little bit back to a family that has always done so much for me.
One place the wind took us was a short stop near an abandoned house/business of some kind. I am intrigued by such places, and though I rarely stop and take a look, I often imagine the sorts of lives that once filled these places. What circumstances brought them to this moment, where they sit empty by the roadside? This was the only picture I took during my two day road trip.
There were towns along this road that looked very much like this place- abandoned, boarded up buildings. Places that have stories. Most of those remain untold and are forever lost.
I don’t want the stories that affect my life to go unmarked, or have them fade into nothingness like the moments that surround this building.
Instead, I share them with you. It feels right.