The beginning and the end are a given.
No one needs to teach us how to cry. It is something we are born knowing. We learn to walk and to talk. We learn to travel the roads and the relationships that lay in wait for us. We learn to love and to hate, to strive and survive but we don’t need to learn how to cry. They say tears are a universal language. We all cry but not everyone sheds tears. Each child that is born carries within it the knowledge of its own destiny. We are finite and although there are many paths to take no one needs to be shown the way.
It’s just a generic pit stop on an old road. The road stretches out east and west from a corner marked by 2 stop signs and an amber light. The road isn’t as busy since they built the highway 40 years ago but it still sees a fair amount of traffic on weekends and summer days. The scenic route is always worth it if you’ve got the time.
The bright red and yellow sign shows the specials of the week, fried chicken, cheeseburger deluxe or the dreaded liver and onions. There’s an old battered metal sandwich board that lists the gas prices below. The current price is 99.9 cents a litre if you’re wondering. The middle nine is an upside down six. Most likely no one had thought to buy a third nine so many years ago. They had might have foreseen a 79.9 or an 89.9 but never a 99.9. I wonder what they’ll do when it hits 101.1. There’s an apartment above and flowerpots hang from the veranda that shelters the post office boxes below. With a small town “Twin Peaks” twist this particular place is noted for its homemade pies. It’s a little pricey for a slice; you could make your own pie for about the same cost and eat the whole thing yourself. You’d be missing out if you did.
The weather and the time of year control the flow of traffic. Motorcycle riders head up and down the road in large packs or small groups of two or three. They are for the most part carrying middle age heavy on their shoulders as they sit astride magnificent machines their younger years could only have dreamed of. They are joined on their journeys by other lovers of the road, wanderers who are lost or those just looking. Early morning is the safest time for the locals. The parking lot is full of battered pick-up trucks as sun wizened faces fill the tables and talk about crops, no rain and John Deeres. This is tobacco country and right up until last year they could sit at a table and have a smoke with their coffee. Time and politics have changed that. They think that they are sitting still but they too are on the road. Outside the pumps are manned year after year by a steady stream of local teenagers looking for a little bit of extra cash so they can set off themselves.
All these travelers travel the same road. I travel this road and so do you. Although our stories may seem different they are the same story in varying degrees. There is the beginning and the end which is the given. There is no denying that. But between the sorrow and the finite there is the common road that stretches out in either direction and there in lies mercy.