It's been a string of lazy days here. I let good days go by that I could have been doing some necessary outdoor chores, and let the time slip away. Got a Willie Nelson show coming up tomorrow night in Roanoke. I'm resting toward the drive. I'll be driving total of six hours probably. I'm not taking the interstate, but the highway from Galax to Woodlawn to Hillsville to Floyd, where I'd like to stop for dinner, then on to Roanoke. It's a beautiful drive. Beautiful country through there. It's the region where the events of the movie LAWLESS took place. None of that will be there, but the landscape. Southwest Virginia is beautiful mountain scenery, mountains you can roll with on the highway, flow this way and that, up and down, fenceposts, cattle, horses, old farmhouses with gingerbread along the edge of the roof. I want to leave in plenty of time to relax in the drive and enjoy the ride. Kathryn, who will be with me, loves this part of the world too. I've driven the highway to Roanoke in the mid 1980s many times, know it well. The road will not have changed much except for through the towns that grow more every year. Thought I'd take the Parkway to 52, 52 to 221, 221 to Roanoke. Interstate would be faster but on interstate we could be anyplace in USA. Interstates and malls are the same all over the country. Might take interstate on the way back when it's dark.
My mind went to work looking at the driving in a time when my energy isn't what it one time was, then walking no guessing how far from parking space to door, then from door to seat no guessing how far. The sciatic nerve in left leg is acting up. It will be as far to walk back to the car as from car to seat. I decided to take a cane, in case my energy gives out inconveniently. I have Jr Maxwell's cane I bought him to replace one he ran over with the car. It is one of those lightweight shiny aluminum canes, adjustable in length with a good rubber tip for grip, and a foam rubber handle. It will look like I just left the hospital. With Kathryn's white hair and my white hair with Farm Bureau ballcap and the hospital cane, we'll get every senior privilege there is. I'll hear "Sir" a dozen times. This is, after all, the South where older people tend to be regarded with respect. That's changing, of course. It's all right. We won't be the oldest ones there. Willie is ten years my senior. I won't be the only one with a cane. A cane makes a good martial arts weapon too. It tears me up that Steve Lewis will be playing in Woodlawn that night. When it comes to my preferences, I'd rather go to a Steve Lewis show than a Willie Nelson show, but the tickets are in hand and it's basically a gift to Kathryn, who has loved Willie Nelson's music about all her grownup life. I never paid any attention to him until I heard an interview with him on NPR about his 80th birthday, and took an interest in him. This show will pump me full of appreciation for Willie Nelson. Gonna see a lotta Jack Daniels and Harley Davidson tshirts. Maybe I'll get Kathryn a Willie Nelson tshirt if she'd like, you know, for been there, done that, bought the tshirt.
It's the kind of place they might ask Vets to stand up and be honored. I'd hate it, but I'd stand and be embarrassed seeing people nearby gaping at me in admiration and clapping like it's participation tv, a white-haired Vet, Lord Have Mercy, and I'd be thinking, Don't ask how much I hated it. At the time. Since, I've come to see it as one of the most valuable times in my life, perhaps it. The draft took me out of my life and provided time to look at my life, look at it with distance and a cold eye. I came out of it very different from when I went in. Looked and acted the same, but something major had changed inside. A change of direction. A change from unconscious to barely conscious. It was a time of making some major life decisions I've not regretted since. Came out of it a little bit educated in Existentialism after reading so many novels, plays and essays by French Existentialist writers. Their books were like feedbags for me. I had found the philosophy that accorded with who I am. It started with Camus, who pointed me to deBeauvoir, and Sartre. They turned me on to Jean Genet, who could only write in prison. They turned me on to some pretty heady writing. By the end of those two years of reading every spare moment, I was able to read with comprehension, had learned a great deal about WW2 in France, the French Underground, had developed an interest in French writing. From there I started college. Came out of high school a moron, not by IQ test score, but certainly by lack of understanding how to live in this world. I felt like I was in prison the whole time. But I needed it. It was better than land prison. They let me ride the ocean and paid me to do it. The intimacy with the ocean was worth everything that got me there, like intimacy with the mountains in this time of the life is worth every experience that made my path to these beautiful hills that Ralph Stanley calls the hills of home.
I don't believe they'll ask Vets to stand, but wouldn't bet against it. Don't expect it. But know better than to expect anything. I know better than to expect the concert will even happen. I know better than to think I'll wake in the morning. There are so many hundreds of thousands of variables between here and there, I don't even attempt to think about it. One thing living in this world has taught me, do not expect. Just don't. Expectation never works out. It's always something else. And then I'm so disappointed I miss what's happening. Kathryn has raised four girls, two husbands, and is now taking care of her mother. She's not overrun with expectations either. We're both in a good place in that way. We're free enough of expectation to allow the show to be what it is. It's a legitimate expectation that it will be a really good concert, but it's not certain. No worries. We'll both go open to the moment and receive what it has to offer. For me, it's about being with Kathryn, who I don't see often enough and haven't seen in awhile. I'm looking at, for myself, six hours with Kathryn, Willie Nelson the turn around point. I want to give Kathryn a break from the caregiving responsibility that after awhile becomes something like dragging a cinderblock tied to one ankle. It feels good to let go of that cinderblock for awhile. No problem putting it back on, but it feels so good to simply have a break. Mama will be watched over by granddaughter and great granddaughter. It will be a fun time for all concerned, I expect.