Favorite

Earthlings 

The Observer recently flew for the first time in a little over 16 years, and to Texas, of all places. Spouse's car was getting a little long in the tooth, and the Mobile Observatory even longer of chopper, so we'd been scouting around for a new ride for a while now with very specific criteria: Honda, CR-V, low miles, within our budget, and a color other than grey, silver or the doughy tan that some automakers grandiosely call "champagne."

You'd be surprised at how hard it is to meet those bare criteria in Little Rock or even the state of Arkansas. So, using one of those "pick your color, your mileage, your price" car search websites, we finally got frustrated enough to hit "any distance."

There, halfway across Texas in Abilene, was our car: a lovely electric blue Honda with a mileage that suggested it had been owned since new by an agoraphobic. Dozens of high-def pictures, a printout showing the exact moment that it had been brought in for every oil change and tire rotation. No smell-o-vision, but we were willing to gamble. Best of all, the car was squarely in our price range, which we will optimistically describe as meager. You try paying a car note on a newspaper salary, pal.

The Observer called the dealership way out west, talked it over, struck a deal and booked a one-way flight. We could hear dear ol' Pa saying we were crazy for flying 500 miles to buy a car that we'd never laid eyes on. But it was a Honda, still under the factory warranty, and we've owned three of those at this point. What's the worst that could happen?

Taxiing out, The Observer remembered why we don't fly. Tiny seat, large posterior, that singularly weird feeling of takeoff, which we described once as like having a rocket strapped to your back, Wile E. Coyote style, and being thrust into the sky. Once in the air, the world shrinking below, we found again the wonder of it. Heading west at 31,000 feet, you can see the line where Arkansas becomes Texas or thereabouts: Arkansas a verdant wilderness, then the trees thinning and thinning, the forests becoming lines around champagne fields, then the fields growing until they touch, each trickle of water visible even from that great height as a vein of green.

We made Dallas and our connection to Abilene, a hop so short the flight attendant didn't have time to give us ice for our sodas. The attendant was a funny guy, a storyteller. All the way to Abilene, he walked the aisles, joking, telling tales, asking where people were going and why. When he stopped in front of our seat, we feared he'd talk to us, but instead he engaged a couple sitting nearby. One of them said he was on his way home to see his father, and so the attendant told the story of his own parents, who had adopted him and his sisters, who'd raised them, who'd cared for him for months when he'd almost died some years back, who had been together until death did them part, living in their own home. By the end, he said, the old man was so disgusted with languishing in hospitals and asking others for help that when he fell out of bed one night and couldn't get up, he'd forbidden his wife from calling the ambulance or the kids, preferring to sleep there on the hard floor than spend another night in some antiseptic room. A few months later, she passed. Seven months after that, he followed.

The Observer — a storyteller, husband, father and something of a sap — is not ashamed to admit that we were moved to quiet tears by the story; one son's tale of two lives on earth below. Wedged in our rented seat, we thumbed our tears and missed home like you would not believe.

Back on terra firma and our name on the dotted line, we thought of the attendant and his story all the way to Little Rock, blasting across Texas, window down and the sinking sun in our rear view, headed home. Back to where we belong. Until death do us part.

If you're up there, my friend: safe travels.

Favorite

Comments

Subscribe to this thread:

Add a comment

Readers also liked…

  • I'm sorry

    I'm sorry we stood by while your generation's hope was smothered by $1.3 trillion in student loan debt, just because you were trying to educate yourselves enough to avoid falling for the snake oil and big talk of a fascist.
    • Nov 17, 2016
  • Addendum

    he Observer has our regrets, just like everybody else. For example: last week, Yours Truly published a cover story on the increasingly ugly fight over Eureka Springs' Ordinance 2223, which is designed to protect a bunch of groups — including LGBTQ people — from discrimination in housing, employment, accommodations, cake buying, browsing, drinking, gut stuffery, knickknack purchasing, general cavorting, funny postcard mailing and all the other stuff one tends to get up to in the weirdest, friendliest, most magical little town in the Ozarks.
    • Apr 30, 2015
  • Snake stories

    The Observer's boss, Uncle Alan, is something of a gentleman farmer on his spread up in Cabot, growing heirloom tomatoes and watermelons and crops of chiggers on property that looks like the perfect farmstead Lenny and George often fantasized about in "Of Mice and Men."
    • Aug 27, 2015

Most Shared

  • Labor department director inappropriately expensed out-of-state trips, audit finds

    Jones was "Minority Outreach Coordinator" for Hutchinson's 2014 gubernatorial campaign. The governor first named him as policy director before placing him over the labor department instead in Jan. 2015, soon after taking office.
  • Rapert compares Bill Clinton to Orval Faubus

    Sen. Jason Rapert (R-Conway)  was on "Capitol View" on KARK, Channel 4, this morning, and among other things that will likely inspire you to yell at your computer screen, he said he expects someone in the legislature to file a bill to do ... something about changing the name of the Bill and Hillary Clinton National Airport.

Latest in The Observer

  • Writers blocked

    OK, back to basics, Observer. Get hold of yourself. Give the people what they want, which is escapism! If you don't, this column is eventually just going to devolve into The Prophecies of Hickstradamus at some point in the next four years: "The Orange Vulture perches in the fig tree. The great snake eats Moonpies and Royal Crown Cola by starlight ..." That kind of thing. Nobody likes that. Too much deciphering and such.
    • Dec 1, 2016
  • Cassandra

    The Observer's grandfather on our mother's side was a crackerjack fella. Grew up in the sandy hills north of Conway. County boy, through and through. During hog-killing time in December 1941, the story in our family goes, when word of Pearl Harbor reached his little community, he and his friends loaded into his T-model truck and made the rough journey to the first speck of civilization that included an Army recruiting office, where they all enlisted.
    • Nov 24, 2016
  • I'm sorry

    I'm sorry we stood by while your generation's hope was smothered by $1.3 trillion in student loan debt, just because you were trying to educate yourselves enough to avoid falling for the snake oil and big talk of a fascist.
    • Nov 17, 2016
  • More »

Visit Arkansas

View Trumpeter Swans in Heber Springs

View Trumpeter Swans in Heber Springs

Magness Lake, in Heber Springs, is a magnet for swans

Event Calendar

« »

December

S M T W T F S
  1 2 3
4 5 6 7 8 9 10
11 12 13 14 15 16 17
18 19 20 21 22 23 24
25 26 27 28 29 30 31

Most Recent Comments

 

© 2016 Arkansas Times | 201 East Markham, Suite 200, Little Rock, AR 72201
Powered by Foundation