Gratitude runs deep at this moment. I drove away from my friend’s nice home, in the dark, refreshed by the shower I’d had, the open conversation exchanged, (augmented by the excellent couple of bourbons on the rocks I’d consumed as slowly as possible), and the quiet, cool night air. I was suddenly aware of a noise my car was making. There is nothing, I thought, that makes one more sensitive to every nuance as the barriers to fear drop, thanks to a slight change in chemistry. The noise grew louder.
I pulled over a bit and stopped. Yes, my left front tire was flat. I laughed, remembering how a male friend, years back, told me, “If ever anything happens out on the road up here, just stand by your car and wring your hands together, and someone will stop and help you.” I opened the trunk and pulled out all the stuff piled in it: my chainsaw, the crate with things I meant to drop off at the goodwill, the two cans of corn I never got milled, the small tool kit, the spare tire, and underneath it all, the jack.
I placed the jack in the proper spot under the car’s frame. The tire had two big tears in its sidewall.
“This may take a while,” I thought,” but no matter. I can get it done.”
I had not made much progress when I noticed a vehicle come alongside me, slow down, stop, shift into reverse, and park behind me. A fellow got out of his van, came over to me and immediately took charge of changing the tire
It seemed effortless for him, John Adams, no longer a resident of Newton County, here visiting his son. The rim was glued to the car, thanks to all the mud I’ve driven through of late. He went to his van and came back with a hammer with which he tapped the rim free, and I marveled, in my slightly high state, at how quickly the spare tire was now in place. I put my right hand out to shake his, saying “Thank you so much!” He did not take my hand but, instead, embraced me; I hugged him back. Wow! He got back in his van and drove away. I pulled back onto the road and ran over something. What was that? Up ahead, I saw John stopped, standing out in the road. I slowed down; he said, “I forgot my hammer back there.”
“Oh yes! I wondered what that was. I ran over it. I’ll turn around and go get it.”
“I’ll be right here,” he said.
I went back the way I’d come. I did not see the hammer. I turned around and saw John coming towards me in his van. He slowed down and we spoke, he reminding me of where it was he’d changed the tire, just before Todd’s place.
“You know Todd?” he asked.
“Yes, I know Todd.”
I told him I would find his hammer, just ahead. Sure enough, there it was. I got out of my car and picked it up, waving it in the air, “I found it!” He’d stopped behind me, gotten out of his van, and was walking towards me. I handed him the hammer and once more expressed my gratitude. He gave me another hug. Experiencing another couple of nuances, I was aware of his perfect height in relation to mine, his clean scent, the completely natural exchange of a hug between old friends, for he must have been someone I knew in some other lifetime. It was probably the bourbon; thank goodness for excellent bourbon! And that was that. I wondered if I would ever meet him again.
Tears of gratitude welling up as I drove home, was feeling glad to be alive, living here in this special place where, on a dark back road, I may chance to meet a fellow for the first time, receive assistance from him, share a spontaneous hug, and I feel no fear, just simple, deep gratitude.