Two Chicks Fifty Years Apart, on the Road To Becoming a Traveler
This piece is a collaborative project between Mary Sojourner and Kae Lani Kennedy.
MS: My dad sat on the hall steps in our suburban home. Pale dawn shone outside the windows. I checked the locks on my battered suitcase and refolded the Hudson Bay blanket for the fifth time. “Liz,” my dad said, “if I was twenty years younger and not married to your mom, I swear I’d take off with you. San Francisco. A wild new start.”
I couldn’t believe what I was hearing. My dad was the business teacher and football coach of the high school I’d graduated from only two years earlier. He was a staunch Republican and a golfing fanatic. “Dad,” I said. “I wish you would. There’s room in the car. I think.” I hadn’t met the stranger I was bumming a ride with, the guy I’d sit next to for the four days and 2700 miles between Rochester, NY and the city where some of us believed that in 1960 an amazing new world was being born.
My dad shook his head and glanced up the stairs to the second floor. “I tried to talk her into coming down to say good-bye, but she just gave me the fish-eye and lit her damn cigarette.” A rusted out 55′ Chevy pulled up next to the porch outside. The driver hit the horn. My dad tucked a folded bill into my hand “Well, Liz,” my dad said, “I haven’t told you very often that I love you.”
I fought back tears and patted his shoulder. He stood up and held me for a few seconds. “I’m telling you now. Call when you get where you’re going. Just call collect. Save your money to take care of yourself.”
“I love you, dad,” I said, picked up my suitcase, folded the blanket over my arm and walked one of the longest walks I’d ever walked — out the front door of my childhood home, across the porch, down the steps, and into the passenger seat of a beater car next to a young guy I’d never met. I waved once. My dad was a blurred shape behind the door window. The driver pulled out onto the street. I opened my fist and saw that the bill was a fifty — a small fortune for my dad.