(These lines were written on the road to an English Education conference in the Fall 2015 semester of my sophomore year.)
On the road with three English majors and two English department professors. It’s dark, very dark, outside. Too dark to do much but sleep. Or, if you’re me, you drop in and out of a dozy kind of sleep as you listen to the two talk in the front seat and shotgun.
The funny thing is, they’re making me reflective. So very reflective. As they rant and rave over snow tires and cars that they’ve fixed up time and again, they remind me more and more of my father. The way that they talk over each other even while they’re listening to the other’s conversations and following each other’s train of thought. The way that one clears his throat after every other sentence. Even the way that one laughs, with a kind of “Ah-heh-heh-heh” sound bubbling up from inside his throat and squeaking through nearly closed lips.
I miss my dad sometimes while I’m out at Dordt. I miss my family once in a while, honestly. I really do. Do I ever tell them that? I hope so. But not that I can remember.
They discuss cars like I discuss theology, or linguistics, or English. They discuss cars with the depth of knowledge and experience that they discuss English with, as well! My father is probably one of the smartest men that I know. Ask him to solve a math problem and he’s stumped. Tell him to find a website and he’s lost as a deer in headlights. But give him a practical problem, give him a mechanical issue, give him a broken anything and he’ll fix it. He’ll fix anything he can put his hands on. In his own time, of course.
He didn’t go to college. He didn’t get married right out of high school. What was his life like? Did he love before my mother?
Suddenly, one brings up the topic of conversation that they began with, nearly two hours ago. This is beautiful, simple and wonderful and complicated all at the same time.
They talk about their children. How their children call them sometimes even though they’re all married now. “His wife makes him call, we know it. Talked to him on the phone for an hour and ten last week.” The pride in their voices. “They’ll call me and tell me exactly where the sound is coming from, exactly what lights are on in the dash…” “Makes you proud, doesn’t it?” “Yep.” Insert chuckling here. You ever hear the phrase “Get a parent started talking about their children and they’ll never stop”? It’s true. And it’s wonderful.