By Nancy LeRoy, Guest Blogger

IMG_0706September 24, 2009. It was a long drive today, 10 hours from Springfield MO to Tucumcari NM. I spent one day (two nights) with friends in Springfield, Bob and Linda, whom I knew well when we were in Tokyo together and later in Washington when they lived in Bowie, MD and my husband and I had bought our first house in Northwest Washington DC. It’s been 20 years since I’ve seen them.  I enjoyed learning about their lives in Springfield, so different from mine and most of the people I know. They live surrounded by family and people they’ve known since high school and college. They drove me around Springfield pointing out landmarks from their childhoods and youth. They are still friends with people they knew in high school!  I find that extraordinary.
Each time Linda or Bob pointed out a place that had memories for them, places that still existed and they could return to, I thought of my own past in Detroit.  The places I lived aren’t there any more – burned out, torn down, or boarded up and empty. The street I lived on in Detroit is still there, but the houses, all of them, are gone.  The street’s used by the city, I guess, to dump junked cars, old tires, twisted steel girders from some torn down buildings.

My past is gone.

But I loved seeing Bob and Linda and knowing that such lives still exist and in a good way. Bob, a former Voice of American correspondent and Linda, a stay at home mother of four children, remain the liberal, forthright people I remember.
IMG_0713The drive to Tucumcari was long and tiring, and the Economy Lodge here is cheap, only $49 for the night. There’s a Denny’s next door and I was told when I checked in that I could get a 10% discount eating there.  It looks most unappealing and my eccentric, even snobbish, food tastes can be best dealt with in the motel room, TV turned on to CNN news in the background while I mix my vodka, soda water and fresh squeezed lime juice. I cut up my last garden tomato along with a red pepper purchased in Springfield and some bright green sugar peas.  I tossed on some salt and a little cider vinegar and nibbled away with a side of crackers and cheddar cheese.crackers and cheddar cheese.

Tomorrow I’ll get away early for another long day to Lake Havasu City, AZ, a city.  While I was in Springfield I tried to explain to Linda how I felt about making this trip. “It makes me really anxious sometimes,” I told her, and I wonder occasionally why I’m driving across the country and doing God knows what. Linda looked at me and said in her very straightforward way said, “I can’t imagine.”