North Carolina Reflections

333 magnify

Little Steve Asked What’s A Custodian

Carolyn’s House, Beaufort

May 26, ‘77

Morning came and with it more rain, not torrential, but consistent. I decided not to ride in it; instead I found a spot under an overhang and stuck my thumb out. Around 4 p.m. I was about to give up and go back to Mikes to rent a room for another night, when Carolyn approached me. “This is the second time I have passed you by today,” she said, “You look like you could use a hot meal.” She didn’t live far away, so I followed her on my bike.

After I arrived at her nice middleclass house, Carolyn introduced me to her husband, John, a psychologist, her son, Steve, and her teenage daughter, Lenore. Carolyn was a music teacher. She was in the kitchen making spaghetti when she told Lenore to take me in the other room and play something on the piano for me. Lenore was a little embarrassed, but she did what she was told. We went into the drawing room where I sat down, and listened to her play a beautiful piece of music. A friend of the family composed it, and as far as I was concerned it had the flavor—almost to perfection– of the countryside I had just bicycled through. Lenore giggled when I told her that because, as she informed me, the piece was entitled “North Carolina Reflections.” After Steve had his turn at the piano, we were all called to dinner.

I was fortunate to run into the family. When Carolyn asked me to dinner, I had already made up my mind to stay at Mike’s Hotel, and it would have been easy for me to excuse myself, but uncharacteristically, I agreed to go with her. I remained “centered” the whole time I was at the Mead’s house. I did not let myself fall victim to expectations, familiar or otherwise. I did not become anxious. I did not feel out of place. At dinner, John asked me what I did for a living and I told him I was a custodian at a university. Steve spoke up and said, “What’s a custodian?” I told him a custodian was just another name for the janitor who cleans the floors at his school. Everyone at the table except Steve felt the embarrassment. It wasn’t a big deal to me. I just let it go. I didn’t even feel the need to talk about my university studies.

When I left to go back to Mike’s Hotel, I felt high. I was pleased with myself for not getting caught up in the judgment and evaluation game. In fact, it was especially gratifying because at the dinner table there was a lot of classic “name dropping.” However, I wasn’t sure if they were vying for status for themselves, or for North Carolina. When I settled back in old #7 (my room), with a beer and a bag of potato chips, I still felt high. That night, there was another good movie on TV.

Steak, Ribs, Hamburgers, Hot Dogs, Corn, Potatoes, Grits—All For Me

Ben’s House, Somewhere In Maryland

May 29, ‘77

Things weren’t quite so gloomy today. Once I left Beaufort, the weather cleared a bit (over 5 inches of rain in two days), and the highway became bicycle heaven. Cedar Island was nice. The ferry over to Ocracoke was especially nice, probably two hours over to the outer banks. Ocracoke was sand, ocean, and people, that’s all—very nice! I met some good people on the boat and again that night in the park. After everybody had crashed, looking at the moon, and listening to the sea’s lullaby, I thought to myself what a great day I’d just had.

The next day I boarded a ferry to Hatteras, a much more commercialized island. The ride lasted about an hour. The outer banks were beautiful. I met a lot of quick acquaintances, all nice people. I’m really glad the outer banks happened. Maybe now my tolerance level for ill tidings won’t be so low. Ocean swimming, sunshine, biking, and lots of nice people have a way of reinforcing everything that’s good in life. In fact, what else is there! To be continued…

Well here I am again, writing in my journal twenty-four hours after being interrupted by the two girls who had also stopped at the Dairy Queen for a respite from the afternoon sun. The girls asked if I needed a lift and I accepted. I put my journal in my bicycle bag, the bicycle in the back of their pick-up, and we were off to the Chesapeake Bay Bridge. It was already late, and without that thirty-mile ride I wouldn’t have made it to the bridge. The bridge was mammoth. It connected South Virginia’s coastline with the peninsula reaching down from Maryland. The bridge was sixteen miles long with two of those miles tunneling under the Chesapeake Bay. I stood for two hours hitchhiking before Greg picked me up (no pedestrians or bicycles were allowed on the bridge). I was offered a beer and shared a joint with him. As we crossed the bridge we listened to good music on his stereo. It was a nice ride, indeed!

As it turned out, Greg was vacationing with friends and he suggested I spend the evening at their campsite. I accepted. After a ten-minute ride, we pulled into a Virginia camping park, and I met Gary and Ray. That evening I enjoyed good company, beer, and smoke dope. I was the first to call it a night, though. In the morning, the fellows wanted me to stay on. It was Memorial Day weekend and they said it wouldn’t be safe biking anyway. At first I thought that was a good idea, but after a
couple hours of drinking, smoking, and girl watching (most weren’t even weaned yet), I decided biking was an even better idea. I thanked the lads and headed for the open road. I knew I had one full day of biking ahead of me before the vacationers started migrating north from
Virginia Beach.

Biking started out good, but soon the clouds rolled in, the winds picked up, and the temperature dropped. By late afternoon, I was straining at 80% output to make 20% distance, so I pulled into a schoolyard. Tired, cold, and exhausted, I went behind the main building and set up my tent in-between two outbuildings. That got me out of the wind. I also felt safe there. After eating a bologna sandwich, somewhere in Maryland, under cloudy, cold skies, I began to feel a little bit better. It hadn’t started to rain yet, but I was sure it would. I was close enough to the parked school busses, so that if it rained hard, I could probably find shelter there, provided the doors were unlocked. My hope of finding a campsite where I could lay over for a day in order to miss the holiday traffic was pretty much dashed. I was not in the best of moods when I heard voices outside my tent.

Eric and Ben had come to investigate. Both boys appeared to be just under ten years old. They were eager to hear my story. Ben must have been especially impressed because he returned after 6 p.m. and invited me over to his parent’s bar-b-q dinner. I wasn’t hungry, though. When the boys left, I opened a can of cold spaghetti and ate the whole thing, and that was on top of the sandwich I had earlier, but I didn’t have the heart to turn the kid down.

It was a large black family gathering. After I introduced myself to Ben’s father, his mother handed me a plate heaped full of hot food. There was steak, ribs, hamburgers, hot dogs, corn, potatoes, and grits. (She left the grits off the plate. She probably figured the white northern boy wasn’t ready for the grits and she was probably right.) There I was, in front of all that delicious hot food with my stomach full of spaghetti. I did manage to eat the ribs, (but silently I hated myself for not being hungry). I could only manage a bite or two of everything else.

That was the most southern hospitality I had ever experienced and it was very much appreciated. When I went back to my tent I was very uncomfortable. Fortunately, I didn’t have to lie down right away because I had become a celebrity among the kids in the neighborhood. Ben’s friends all came over to see the tent-guy on the bicycle. That gave my stomach a little more time to digest before I hit my sleeping bag. Thanks Ben!


4 Responses to “North Carolina Reflections”

  1. Beverly Says:

    Once again Dave, I loved your story. It’s almost like I’m a kid, sitting on the floor, listening to the stranger, mesmerized by your adventure, secretely a little bit jealous that I have to live it vicariously through you….who got to actually live this grand adventure. I was thinking about why that was. I do sort of tend to over analyze everything, which in itself, is both a curse and a blessing. As I’m reading it, part of me is re-living the adventure with you. Sub-consciously I’m in awe of what you did. Perhaps this is only revealing what I feel is one of the basic differences between men and women. Or, perhaps more specifically, the difference between me and you. I would have lacked the courage to ever strike out on a trip like this….revealing that at my very core, I am a coward. But that’s not really true. I have done things in my life that tell me I am no coward. Maybe it is the testoserone thing then, women are so much more vulnerable than men, especially in an adventure like yours, who as part of the rites of manhood learn how to become men by pitting themselves against a force, like nature or strangers or the unknown or taking off on a bicycle trip to God only knows where and dealing on a constant basis with God only knows what. Maybe as a woman, I had other things that I had to prove, requiring a different kind of courage, yet courage just the same. Then again, maybe I should stop trying to over-think everything and just settle down and enjoy the ride. Thank you for sharing and letting me be able to take the journey with you, unafraid, because I know when I am with you, I am safe.

  2. Beverly Says:

    Dave, I finally figured out how I found your blog. You made a comment on “Just A Crazy Woman’s” blog. Her blog was called Peep all you want, it’s legal. You said you had only written a few blogs and that your site was primitive and that you didn’t have any computer skills. You said you liked the site, that “it feels right” and that you would be back. I agreed with you about her site and I just had to see what a primitive site looked like and the rest is history now. Just A Crazy Woman is one of Yahoo 360’s featured bloggers, that’s how you probably found her. I love her stuff…she is outrageously funny. I only found her recently, so I was looking back at some of her old blogs. You can save someone’s blogs so that you can go back and see what new stuff they have written. When you are on their page, just click on “add to messenger”, on the next page you have the option of adding them to your favorites. I would not suggest asking anyone to be your friend until you have spent some time on their site and left some comments on several blogs, some people seem to be offended if you ask to be their friend without knowing anything about you. I guess because they get so many requests, they have to be choosy about who they add. Anyway, when you go onto your home page (top menu on the right hand side) you can see all your favorites and the latest blogs they have written. I haven’t been blogging too long myself, I wrote my first one March 19, 2007. If you go to someone’s site, and go to their blog page, there is a calendar on the left side of the page and you hold your cursor over an under-lined date, it will give you the name of the blog for that day. I just recently figured out how to highlight my blog. You can do the same. Go to each of your blogs and click on edit, then scroll to the bottom of the page, and click on “show options”, then put a check in the block that says to highlight this blog entry. That way, when people come to your page, they can see at a glance the names of your blogs and if anything catches their interest, it makes it easier to read them. The best way for people to find you, is for you to leave interesting comments on other people’s blog. And to make a few friends. You also have the option to write directly to someone by going to their page, and on the left side, click on send a message. That would be private so no else could read it. Not like these comments that any body can read when they look at your blog comments. Once someone leaves a comment on your page, you can delete it if its vulgar or they say something rude. It’s never happened to me, but I’ve heard others say its happened to them. This is probably more than you wanted to know in one sitting about blogs and may be wondering “when will this wierd lady person shut up?” Now seems like a good time to me. Beverly

  3. Beverly Says:

    Here are some of my favorites:–?cq=1 (Just a crazy woman’s page – very humorous)–?cq=1 (Astra Navigo’s page – quite intelletual)–?cq=1 (Scooter’s page – another funny one) (Stephanie’s page – a very gifted writer, some of her old blogs are so creative, she hasn’t written any lately since she moved and can’t get on the internet much)
    Do you know how to copy and paste to find their pages?

  4. dave Says:

    Thanks for your help and kind words, Beverly. You’re right about guys having an advantage over women–when it comes to traveling the open road. I know that’s unfair, but I didn’t write the script. I’ll reread your help comments and try them out. All are new to me except the cut and paste part. Actually, I haven’t used cut and paste on blogs because I don’t spend much time in front of the computer. My wife and son, especially my son, are always there, but that’s ok with me because, truth be told, I don’t think fast enough to be productive and I write even slower. My posts are a product of four years of getting up at three in the morning and writing (and rewriting) until six in the morning (on weekends longer). In other words, I’m not a prolific writer. My comments will be short, as well as my computer explorations, but that doesn’t mean I don’t appreciate all your help. I do! Like I said before, you are only the second person to contact me since I’ve been posting-a year plus. Being kind of a solitary guy, though, I don’t find that disturbing. We exist “in between things,” tension is a part of life. Some of the tension that I’ve lived with all my life is having more questions than answers and, alternately, having answers but not the ability to communicate them–thats kind of like the Cassandra curse. Because Cassandra offended Zeus’s wife, she was condemned to tell the truth (or was it to see the future?) but never to be believed–now thats tension!

    Take care, dave

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: