Karen Casey Fitzjerrell

Author of award-winning Forgiving Effie Beck

Guest Post – Susie Trial

Heading down a super slab highway would be going nowhere much too fast. I don’t want to do that today. The roads I choose need to be what folks around here call back roads. They are connected by telephone poles or fence posts, not by the stripes down the middle. The ones that are bumpy and hilly, twisty and turny, dotted with wildflowers, grasses, and rocks on the sides. Some are flat and shimmer in the sunshine. Texas has them all. Rolling through her towns, the roads are dotted with her multitudes making a statement of ownership – as if to fulfill a need to be connected to her like a babe to her mother’s bosom.

On the back roads, there are gates strategically hung between miles of fence posts. Gates adorn an entrance to a fella’s property like a shroud, as if protecting a sacred place and telling all who pass by about the kind of Texan he is. Some are mere openings in a fence. I see them as closures to a passage. Watching for the most appealing gate, searching for one with no exit, I imagine going through it when I die to explore the other side, like a child looks for treasures. But there is no time for exploring now on this part of the journey. So I keep driving.

Drive on not caring. Caring was run over by a freight train quite a few miles back on the super slab. On this trip, I don’t have to be concerned with mile markers because back roads don’t have any. Besides, remembering them will hurt and there is no room in my suitcase for pain. It is already plump-full with burdens that found me at mile marker 6 or 7. So I keep driving.

Maybe I should consider walking instead so that I could become more intimate with the road and the places it takes me. So I would notice the gnarly cracks on the surface that look like the spidery veins in my legs, each one bursting open from pressure sources on the surface. Bearing down they give way. The fractures are unsightly, but they hint that many secrets lay below. One must travel slow and deliberate, paying attention, in order to discover each nook and cranny. So it is in life. Moving too fast is the same as not moving at all. Either way, something learned by experience would be missed, like not hearing a sacred reading during a church service, the spirit could not be quickened.

So I drive on, and find that using the car would be a better idea than walking in case the urge to go home over takes me suddenly. Then I could get there much faster. And I prefer the shelter of the car which seems secure from things I might find scary or harmful, like the Texas summer heat and humidity, a deluge of rain, the dark, or barking memories.

Passing a community center I see a sign posted in front telling of a meeting there that gives coping skills to those with hearing loss. I wonder if the same skills apply to those who don’t listen.

Maybe driving a back road could be considered a coping skill.

3 Comments

  1. Oh how I miss the back roads. This piece paints a picture of my childhood spent on back of a tailgate running the back roads. Love those memories, can almost smell the wild flowers passing by and sweet smell of cows breathing softly, chewing the cud…reminding us how important to slow down and take it all in.

  2. Made me feel like I was in that car with you. Very well done my lovely daughter.

  3. Karen, I drove back roads of four counties here in our Boston Mountains for my non fiction book about the area. What a thrill and the memories will last forever.
    By the way, you won the contest on my blog and I'd like to send you a copy of Fly With the Mourning Dove. Send me your address, please.

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