Let’s go back. Join me for a cup of coffee right now at the ‘89er Truck Stop Coffee Shop on I-35 in northern Oklahoma.
We’re sitting here right now, and it’s 1974, maybe before you were born. I’m thin instead of thick, my hair full, brown and unruly instead of full, gray, and unruly.
It is warm and sunny outside, and the Oklahoma sky has that deep, water pitcher blue pottery color, with high drifting cumulus clouds. I have gone from here and flown over those clouds and these times, but you and I are back now.
We sit at the table and watch the pumper trucks in the parking lot, bumpers tinged red from the oil lease red dirt trails. In the corner by the door, a jukebox advertises THE BEATLES, LADY MADONNA, THE INNER LIGHT. The Inner Light, a B-side to a 45 rpm record, but I’ve always sought the Inner Light, and it ain’t on no jukebox I know. We sit at the third turquoise vinyl booth from the door. Each booth has a chrome coat rack pole attached to the end. Some ‘74 fords and chevys pull up for gas, and squeegee a little bit of the red dirt off the windshield. We’re comfortable across from each other in the booth, feet crossed at the ankles, t shirts, jackets for the crisp Oklahoma Autumn wind.
To your right, my left, is a small Hav-a-nap with a coffee stain on it. To your right is a tiny chrome fence with a napkin dispenser, ancient bottle of hot sauce, and white n’ red plastic ribbed salt and pepper shakers. We focus on our small ceramic mugs of hot fresh black coffee. A light green double line runs round the rim, my finger traces the green line ‘round the rim, warmed by the coffee. My right hand, swirls the mug a little. Just a hint of steam disappears into the dry cool air and I occasionally gaze at the gold flecked white formica table top as I listen to you talk. Man, I like this. I got an old blue ’56 pickup outside. I came from the farm. The farm is all closed up. There is nothing there for me. I could live there, but why would I?
What is moving me away from this place and time? LIFE! I have done my time on the farm. I have been as good a son as I could see fit to be. I graduated high school, I did church 24/7. It’s there. Just down the road there is a church. There is always a church for me. It’s there today, now, this minute. The sun shines on the brick and stone, and I know every brick, every stone of it. I sat for hours under its’ split pine beamed roof, and eaten fried chicken dinners in the fellowship hall.
I take a sip of the coffee, it’s just fine. I listen to you, look left, then down at the tiny gold flecks in the formica tabletop. Where am I drawn, where will I go? Where do I WANT to go? What PULLS ME into the future?
Biggest question: What pulls YOU into the future? See ya there.