Thursday, May 01, 2003

Cross Country Boy Day!

Here comes a comin' Cross Country Boy, doing a cold 68 down a highway through the middle of Nebraska. Cross Country Boy is behind the wheel of a Ryder truck full of everything he couldn't sell and everything his girlfriend left behind. He'll let her decide what she wants to keep in their new place.

He sees a lot of other Ryder trucks and Uhauls in the lanes to his right and to his left and the people in the cabs wear the giddy faces of folks who know they're headed straight for the future they've been dreaming of all this time. "We're really doing it," Cross-Country Boy imagines them saying to each other, just before the passenger leans over to give the driver a wet kiss on the face. Cross-Country Boy tries saying this aloud to the photograph, "We're really doing it." And he bugs his eyes out with anticipation until they start to sting. Then he keeps driving.

Those people in those other trucks, they might wonder why Cross Country Boy is driving solo. They might wonder where his sweetie is. At the rest stops, he can see they're wondering, which is why he makes a point of telling them the story even though they're too afraid to ask. Whoever's at the neighboring table in the Roy Rogers, Cross Country Boy lets them know it's all okay.

"She just went out to Portland ahead of me. She says it's great out there and she can't wait for us to get started on our new life together. She says the apartment she found for us is exactly the place she's always dreamed we'd share." And he'll say, "She says she has a friend out there who might be able to give me a job right when I pull up in my truck," even though she never said that to him. He says all that to the people at the neighboring table just so they don't have to spend all their time wondering about him and they can enjoy their meal knowing Cross Country Boy's doing okay.

Back behind the wheel of his Ryder Truck, Cross Country Boy is smiling at the highway's horizon up ahead. He turns her photograph sitting on the dashboard around so she can see where they're headed. Then he turns it back to face him and he smiles at the smile she's giving him. "Do you think it'll be easy to get a job when I get out there," he asks. But her photograph doesn't answer him.

It never answers that question and it's annoying because that's the only question that's still nagging at Cross Country Boy. He keeps it to himself, but he's starting to feel a little taken for granted. That whole month and a half he stayed inside the apartment after she left, sitting with her photograph and hearing, "I'm just getting settled so everything will be ready for you when you come out here. I just want to make everything right for you. I owe you so much for all the love you've given me and I want to make sure you'll be happy here with me."

He stayed inside until he was convinced. People kept calling to tell him he's crazy to follow her out there, trying to tell him she's with someone new. So he unplugged the phone and locked the door and stared at the photograph to give her the chance to convince him to follow her.

Finally he said, "Will you really try harder this time."

"Yes, oh yes I promise. Oh I love you and I promise to be better for you."

"And you really think we can make it work out there?" he asked.

"Oh yes, I'm certain we can be happy out here. You'll love the apartment I chose for us. Please, please come and be with me again."

"I just wish we'd talked this through before you ran off expecting me to follow," he said.

"I'm sorry baby. But I know you'll love it here and I can't live without you. Will you come?"

So he rented his Ryder truck and loaded up their things and headed for the return address scribbled in the envelope corner of the one unopened letter she sent.

And so Cross Country Boy is headed out to be with his baby, and he just wishes she'd mentioned whether she'd checked into the work situation out there. He's leaving behind a pretty good job for her and he feels like she doesn't really appreciate that. He'll have to bring that up when they're together. Cross Country Boy knows that lovers can't read each other's mind, so it's important to tell your lover when she's upset you.

Here comes a comin' Cross Country Boy, doing a cold 68 down a highway through the middle of Nebraska because today's Cross Country Boy Day!