- It’s my last day in Corpus Christi. I’m driving back from getting my oil changed when I see him. We’ve crossed paths almost every day over the six-something years I’ve been here. I’m guessing he had a stroke of some kind a long time ago, because he can’t use his right arm or leg so well. It’s a struggle for him to walk, but he must put in 5 or 6 miles a day. I’ve never talked to him, but we always wave and say hey. He is an inspiration. Maybe early 30s; life gave him a bad hand but he’s not folding. Never give up; take what you’ve got and make the best of it. It’s a lesson I easily forget. I’m glad he’s been there as a daily reminder. And now, as I leave town, there he is again, walking along Texan. He looks up, sees me, flashes that smile and gives me a peace sign. I wave back. God, I’m going to miss him.
- We’re loading stuff up the next morning after driving all day and stopping in Van Horn, Texas. As I stand looking at the mountains, a nearby woman asks if I can help. She has the hood open on an old Ford F-150 pickup. She’s wearing psychedelic tights, old running shoes and a sweatshirt. She has a foreign accent but I can’t place it. I walk over and look under the hood with her. Like I know anything about engines. Had it since June, she says. The parts all have writing on them, a V-8 Frankenstein. She has taken out the dipstick, but for some reason it appears to be twice as long as the allowable space to reinsert it. She asks if I can help. I give it a try, but I’m terrified I will break it. Can I drive it that way, she asks. Beats me, I reply. It’s Sunday morning in a tiny town. No way she’ll find a mechanic. But she is so cheery. What’s a little adversity. when you’re having an adventure? Mo comes over. She tells Mo she’s from Argetina and on her way to Abilene be a farmer. I come from a people with animals, she says. She’s raising goats. Maybe chickens. She asks hopefully how far Abilene is. About 350 miles, I reply. She shrugs and indicates that’s fine. She needs to get back to the goats. Maybe go to the truck stop, Mo offers. Truck guys will know what to do. She nods and smiles. She never stops smiling. She checks in on two chihuahuas riding shotgun and heads off to motel office for coffee.
- I’m out for my first Arizona run. As i stand at the corner of Thomas and Hayden, I hear a voice behind me. “Do you know where the bar is?” It’s about 10 a.m. and he’s drunk, and not in a good way. He says he thinks he left his wallet at the bar, but he doesn’t know where that is. I tell him it’s my first day here and I don’t know. He says, you know, the bar! I want to help him, but I have no idea how. Can you remember anything about where it was, I ask. No, I have these blank spots in my head, he says. I don’t know. I hate to walk away. He looks me up and down and excitedly asks, “Did you run the Chicago Marathon?” I haven’t, but I said, yes! Great race! He nods approvingly. “Well, have a good run,” he says. We walk across Hayden together. I say a little prayer to Ruth Bader Ginsburg and we part ways.
- I read about a guy explaining the election to his two daughters. “What I say to them is that people are complicated. Societies and cultures are really complicated. This is not mathematics; this is biology and chemistry. These are living organisms, and it’s messy. And your job as a citizen and as a decent human being is to constantly affirm and lift up and fight for treating people with kindness and respect and understanding.” Sasha and Malia have a smart dad.
I don’t know what it all means. I doubt I’ll ever be able to articulate how I’ve felt over the past two weeks. I am left only with snapshots from crossing almost halfway across the nation, clinging to a leaky life raft, an uncertain future and a desperate hope we’ll eventually make it to shore …