Amarillo by Morning

It’s hot in Amarillo in August. Barb and I are heading to Salt Lake City the way we do everything in 1985, the hard way. It may be a little hotter because I seem to be driving the car in a series of circles in interconnecting parking lots as I struggle to reach one of those breakfast drive-throughs that will give us some fuel to start the trip to Salt Lake. I am cussing the traffic, the city, the world, and Barb, who has seen it all many times, is sitting quietly. The better part of a quart of gin the night before has drained me of vitality and left nothing but nerves, which I seem, even under normal conditions, to have more of than most. Finally, I make a dangerous cut in front of another car to land in line. And we sit in a silent anger we have cultivated over the last few years as I have slid down the inevitable pattern of drinking far too much far too often. The only calm voice in the car is George Straight singing “Amarillo by Morning,” the theme of a local radio show. It isn’t God speaking through the clouds, but it feels like a hand on my shoulder. I gather myself, take Barb’s hand (the best apology I have in a world where my words have grown futile), she gives an understanding look, we collect our coffee and head out into another day we are hoping without much evidence won’t be like the one before.

13 thoughts on “Amarillo by Morning

  1. Right now, at 88, I think your blog represents pretty much the way I see life. It’s terrible to have to wait for death, wondering if this will be the day. It shuts out all the
    stuff I used to look for in a new day. I guess I am on that road to someplace and just stopping now and then for a cup of coffee, knowing it will taste the same as the last cup–no surprise anymore.

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    • Two Saturdays ago at Doe Creek, I met a man who was celebrating his 88th birthday. He remembered my father and mother and how my father’s family came back to visit my grandfather LaFayette’s family. I wandered through the cemetery and saw all these these first names repeated within families. There was more than one Lafayette which usually became Fete. There were Shadrachs, which often became Shade. My great grandfather was Shade Eason. I would have liked that name, if not the cumbersome name it comes from. There was a Lester Eason before there was my father. I almost became another, but my mother argued for a popular name of the day. I found no other Davids. I would be the first, but I think more about being blown away by the wind. I don’t know what to say about this thing time. If ever there was a man who has filled his slice with meaning, purpose, and good humor it is you. I have stayed so preoccupied with the past that the future is always sneaking up on me. There are things I need to do I haven’t done. Regret has chased me with a relentlessness greater than my power to resist it. I try so hard just to be in the now, though I know there is a lot less of that ahead of me than there once was. I treasure our friendship and I am sure somewhere I am locked out of my car and you have come to rescue me. We have always shared many anxieties and believe me, I have at least an inkling of what you are talking about. I spent my childhood fearing what came next. I am sure I will revisit those fears soon. Thank you for writing with such honesty.

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  2. Lost my old password and, with it, my comment on your paragraph. Losing things is pretty much the status quo these days. Anyway, Tom Petty thought his best songs were the ones that just flowed out of him, requiring only minor fixes. I mentally cringed reading your graf as I recalled my own history of rage and reconciliation. Lois said last night, there should be a better reward for old age than illness and loss of memory. Dr. House said, life is the reward for living–or words to that effect. Of course, he had good writers to come up with such lines. Marvin’s complaint is one I’ve been feeling a lot lately. Though, at 75, I’m told by people, even my own grandson, that I’m actually enjoying the new middle age. Instead, it feels like the Middle Ages.

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