Cabot O’Callaghan takes to the road and embarks on a journey of rejection and redemption.
See the turncoat on his knees
A vagabond that no one sees
When a moon is throwing shadows
You can’t save the ones you’ve caught in battle
–Beck, Blue Moon
Let me watch by the fire and remember my days
And it may be a trick of the firelight
But the flickering pages that trouble my sight
Is a book I’m afraid to write
-Sting, The Book of My Life
I felt the need to drive. Driving gives me a sense of progress. The landscape rolls by, changes. Miles are conquered, unknown lands discovered.
Where are you going? Somewhere. Anywhere. Everywhere.
This year has been a series of setbacks. I’ve worked so hard to go nowhere.
Life is a trip that leads places you didn’t plan.
My tolerance broke when I totaled my car. It was just bad luck, not some crime of judgment. Just a glance away to look at something out the passenger window.
My son was gone with his mother for the week. I hastily packed a bag and jumped into my rental car.
Where are you going? I just need to go.
I instinctively headed east. East towards a lover that was unable or unwilling to show up in our relationship in a way I ached for. East towards a man that I respected, an endangered gender in my heart.
Who are these people? Balm or thorn?
I knew she’d reject me. That’s why I didn’t ask to come. Rejection is my bane, an arrow that unerringly finds the chink in my empire of armor.
But maybe. Maybe she’d be glad to see me, if only for the briefest of moments.
I’d wanted to meet the man for years. No emails. No texts. Flesh. I didn’t call him before leaving either. He’d see me, make time. I was sure of it.
I’ll thank him, tell him he made a difference in my life.
2000 miles to either of them. I drove all day, all night—motion, song, and thoughts my companions. I’d conquered half the distance before I slept in a lonely truck stop parking lot for just 45 minutes. When I woke, I noticed a crack growing from the edge of the windshield.
Sometimes things quietly break, unannounced.
600 miles from her home I texted. I’d cross oceans for her but she said not to come, that I was drowning in selfishness. Then a sheriff pulled me over and intrusively searched my car for something that wasn’t there. His farewell came as a sarcastic welcome to his state.
There’s nothing there. You hoped to find something that wasn’t there.
I emailed the man and he made time. I wasn’t an inconvenience like I had been to my father. I thanked him, told him he was one of less than a handful of men I respected. I told him the book he wrote was given to me by another one of those scarce men. I told him that he made a difference.
You made a difference. You count as fallible warm flesh among men of flawlessly impenetrable stone.
Out of the hours he and his wife spent with me that day, the strongest memory was this: Their old love was adorably sweet. They knew each other like favorite books, arguing over the memorized chapters of each other’s souls.
Who will treasure the book of my life, the warm chapters and the cold? Who will let me read theirs and keep it close?
I drove back with just as much purpose. I drove home.
A heart rejected, a heart welcomed, offered regardless.