A day with her mother in Brenham, nestled in the rolling central hills. Spring, bluebonnets scattered thickly in all the fields and along the side of the state highways. Never felt more Texan than when her heart swelled at the sight of them. The Blue Bell creamery, the tour of the ice cream being made and packaged and then sweet little scoops. Then the nunnery where they bred miniature horses, a newborn foal quietly nuzzling his mother in a stall. Antique stores with armadillos on the walls and diners and the outline of Texas everywhere. She would be leaving soon.
The kind of diner you thought only existed in period movies that tried too hard. Blue Formica countertop, a waitress named Doris who called you “hon” while she slung her coffeepot, unadorned red and yellow ketchup and mustard bottles and a gleaming metal napkin dispenser. The kind of place you would never find on the sleek Interstate, but apparently still existed in some kind of run-down time warp here along Highway 97. 872 miles to Pennsylvania. You absentmindedly peel back the seal of yet another container of half and half, hoping to make it across the border by nightfall.
Tearing through the Carolinas, just the two of us, a baby kitten, and a backseat full of hastily packed boxes. It was a quarter past eleven but we hadn’t had dinner and one of those ramshackle drive-in places sounded perfect. But here we were on a one-lane gravel road, somehow not able to spot any of the turns to get back to the safety of the freeway in the oppressive dark. The lone dog that ran after our car, his barks echoing, seemed the perfect setup for a ghost story, and the fat silver moon hung with menace.
It was terribly disorienting to look at the Mayan temple and realize it had been there for a good two thousand years, never changing. So much had come and gone since it was built—it was not the same world in any possible way. But still the stone stood unwavering, stood as it had always stood, watching the people that passed by and an instant later turned to dust. We are not even worth speaking of, so soon would we be gone. But the temple did not even crack. It was keeping silent watch. The carvings knew more than I did.