Meet the Vagabond…
I am the Vagabond, not terribly different from you or your neighbor or your best friend. I have my demons, secrets and regrets like everyone. I am not a bad guy, though I feel I am frequently misunderstood. I have made my share of mistakes, some more costly than others.
On a journey not distinct from yours, I am filled with searching, longing and internal conflict. I set out for the answers that my parents didn’t give me. I was fifteen years old when I left home. There wasn’t much to leave; my father walked out on my mother and ten years later, my ma walked out on me. I hit the big cities and then disappeared in small towns.
Finally, I headed out west. It was there that I met an old man; night after night he’d sit out on his front porch trying to let me get it right. When I finally asked him for a helping hand he stood up, shook my hand and said goodnight. I didn’t understand… he walked away saying… “ there is no hitchhiking”.
So after that night, maybe a little angry, I traveled on still trying to figure things out. I made some mistakes along the way. One was big and somehow I found myself holed up in a roadside hotel watching color TV, with a state trooper and a county sheriff coming after me. What I did? I’d rather not say. Except we all should know some forgiveness because we all made some mistakes.
While I was on the run I met her, as I found freedom crossing over the state line. She had a wisp of hair across her face when her eyes met mine. The way she moved reminded me of a wildflower swaying in the wind.
I had this girl for a while: oh, how she could make me smile, and for her you know I was always able to do the same thing. I guess we both knew it could only go so far and it did. Then we let the whole thing just kind of fade away. I hung onto her in my mind for a long, long time like a real good lyric or a real good rhyme. But looking back, it never really was love. It was just a way for me to spend some time.
It hurt pretty bad and it caused me to be more wary, which makes it hard to see what is so obviously right in front of you sometimes.
I remember reading her words like it was yesterday. “You say you don’t know what I see. Well I see someone to love, that I am so unsure of. I want to be with but I don’t know that I can be. I am so confused that I can’t see anything clearly. I see someone who I love to look at; I love to watch you move. There is something about the way you move. What do I see?” I didn’t understand what she was trying to tell me but it touched my emotion like nothing else ever had before.
It didn’t take me too long. I realized that I had found one piece of the puzzle that I was looking for and I stopped seeking … I had found love. She made me smile and she made me laugh; it was a feeling that I wanted to make last. I was captured by this woman, maybe kicking and screaming, but captured nonetheless.
In her I had found the security I had longed for… I told her, “I love the way you make me feel on a cold winter’s day. How you take me to a place that is far, far away in my mind and in time, shadows and sunshine, breezy walks that feel so good and give us time to talk, that’s the way you make me feel on a cold winter’s day.” I told her… “I don’t need no lover’s nest of fireside chat; when I am with you home is where I’m at. I just think about days burning bright blue, blue sky and your soul shine. That’s the way you make me feel on a cold winter’s day.”“I hope you understand I wonder do you feel the same. You don’t need to answer. I don’t need to know anyway. Just know you make my fire burn and help to keep me warm inside.”
In her I had found the best place I‘d ever been. I remember the first day that we kissed and our wedding day. I remember when our three children were born; it was beautiful, like I said, the best place I had ever been. If you’ve got a place like that then you know what I mean.
I was happy. We were building a life and a family. It was everything I did not have as a kid. I was determined not to repeat the failings of my parents and childhood. Yet somehow I was discovering life had a way of biting you when you least expected it. Being a parent was not easy; it made me understand my parents a bit better I suppose. There were other stressors, as well as the mounting responsibilities and I hadn’t realized what was happening until I was right in the middle of it. My ghosts and demons began to find me again.
It all started when I saw the picture in the paper; it was kind of small but I knew she was there. I read the words she said and it made me cry. I kissed the picture and whispered good luck. See I have spent a lifetime waiting for tomorrow. You know the day they say will make all things right. Funny, I thought I had been living in my tomorrow, but now I was wondering if I wasn’t still waiting for tomorrow’s sunrise.
It is interesting how a child’s death can affect you, even if it is not your own. And though a life may end needlessly I gotta believe god has plan. Maybe it is just a way to cope, rationalize. You know maybe he just needs a few more little angels to watch down. I mean I have seen my share of death along the way. But a child: not something any parent should have to endure. I think it was a fear of being abandoned. The uncertainty began to take over my thoughts. I questioned everything around me, my rock was crumbling and the more I knew it, the more I began to fix it, which only made it worse. Finally, I did what came so easily to me years before.
I threw my guitar in my pick up truck with so much in my head. Searching, searching for the answers I thought I had found, but now seemed to elude me once again. The first answer presented itself when my truck broke down. I met her outside leaned up against the car while she was pumping the gas, “What’s the matter?” she said, “Ain’t your day going the way that it should ?” I couldn’t believe my luck when she said, “Leave your truck come with me. I am right over there.” She said, “Convertible Corvette… 1963.”
We drove for hours and hours, laughing and joking. Then we stopped and got ourselves a meal. We almost got into a head on crash driving over some bridge in the Indian Nation, so we stopped into a trading post where we found an old man ranting about salvation. We looked at the beaded blankets and trinkets, smoked a peace pipe just for fun. When we were leaving the old man took my hand and said long may you run.
As we were saying goodbye, she said to me “You know, if you want to be free, you got to live for the moment, you got to stand up and you got live by the truth.” I looked in my rear view mirror and she was gone.
In Northern California I found an old hotel that looked over the water and in the garden there is when I first began to realize every one seeks answers but most go unanswered.
Then down in New Orleans in the French Quarter sitting outside a small café I guess is where it all crystallized. A woman from another table said, “I have my troubles like anyone, but I believe in facing your fears, even if it puts you on the run.” She also said told me that “fears make your dreams disappear.”
I could not get back home fast enough. And though I had not asked permission, I was ready to beg for forgiveness. Reflections of a lifetime captured, I was ready to live out the life I had made for myself and I hoped was still there. When I arrived her mother simply looked at me with tears in her eyes and said, “She’s gone, she’s gone.”
Then the songs came.
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