It’s been several weeks since my last blog post, and I’ve thought often about what it would be about. In fact, I’ve mentally composed a few as I traveled the Texas highways only to fall asleep once I made it to the hotel. You see, I simply can’t move from point A to point B without stopping along the way to explore and capture what I’m seeing in pictures. Most recently, it took me nearly eight hours to drive from Del Rio to Fort Stockton, TX, a drive that should only have taken two and a half hours. The scenery was breathtaking, and the landscape and terrain were unlike anything I’d ever seen, except maybe on television or in pictures but neither of those can prepare you for what you actually experience seeing it in person for the first time.
Aside from my stops at the Amistad National Recreation Area; the Amistad Dam, where I stood in the US and Mexico simultaneously; the Pecos River; and Langtry, TX, where Judge Roy Bean held court, much of my time was spent stopping along that long stretch of Highway 90 photographing the mountains and canyons as I passed through them.
But back to what I intended to be the topic of this blog post. While in Del Rio last week, I decided to drive into Mexico and while entering Mexico was simple enough, my return to the US was quite another story. The border guard asked me twenty plus questions while the K-9 unit searched my car before I was allowed to reenter. Fortunate for me, I’d had my car serviced that morning and had removed every bag and piece of luggage the night before. If I hadn’t, I would still be in Mexico and I mean that in all seriousness. And even though I’ve already written several paragraphs about that event, that isn’t what I want to write about today either.
I saw Tyler Perry’s latest movie, Good Deeds, this morning and left the theater inspired to share why I so identified with Wesley Deeds, the movie’s main character. I related to Wesley not because my parents groomed me to live a certain life but because I assumed a role as a teenager that I felt was expected of me. Daddy was very ill at the time and had been hospitalized for several months. Initially, he was in a nearby hospital but as his condition worsened, the doctors moved him to a hospital almost two hours away in Savannah.
[Wow, I didn’t realize how difficult it would be for me to write this but in remembering that time, I’m also reliving those emotions.]
I don’t recall exactly when but Daddy eventually wanted Mama to stay in Savannah with him. I was fourteen at the time and though not the eldest of nine children, I was the eldest living at home. Mama explained the situation to us, and we understood that she needed to be with Daddy. Never did we think that she was abandoning us (and we still haven’t, Mama); we simply understood that she was doing what needed to be done, and we wanted to do our part. So, as the eldest, the responsibility of the household and my four younger siblings fell upon me, and I assumed it without question and without trepidation; I simply did what needed to be done.
I don’t recall how many weeks this continued but we went to school, did our chores, shopped for groceries, cooked our meals, and endured many sleepless fear-filled nights until Mama and Daddy returned home. I was often afraid but I couldn’t let Mama or my sisters and brothers know because they were depending on me to hold it together. It was then that the facade began.
Daddy lived about a week after being sent home, just long enough it seemed to say goodbye to us and his siblings. After the funeral, we went on with our lives, relieved that Daddy was no longer suffering and totally ignoring the loss we had experienced but that’s a story for another time. The point I’m making here is that I assumed a role at fourteen that I continued until only recently. I believe that a primary purpose of this road trip is for me to fully release who I became back then so that I can become who I am supposed to be. We tend to have perceptions and expectations of each other and while I love my family, I needed to break away in order to free myself from that persona; the facade that dictated that I be reserved and closed because I didn’t want anyone to discover the truth as I saw it: that I really didn’t have it all together.
The only way I could live my life fully and authentically was to get rid of the mask and as I travel around the country, I see that happening. The fact that I’m even sharing my innermost thoughts and feelings in this blog is evidence of that peeling away.
So yes, Wesley’s statement at the end of the movie resonated deeply with me and while I don’t know how long I’ll be out here or where I’ll end up, I do know that it’ll be perfect for me.