Cornfields and fog stretched before me like a never ending elastic waistband.
It was March, and I had been driving for ten days. Granola bar wrappers, crossword scratch and wins, and empty coffee cups covered the backseat. I wore moccasin slippers, jeans, and a grey sweater.
I passed a dusty white trailer in an abandoned lot, with a flashing neon sign that said “Fireworks!!!”
Images flashed through my mind. A dark cloudless night, a stranded lone traveller, a strange leather-vest wearing man with a hint of a smile on his leathery face. GAH! “Stop it.” I told myself. I AM a lone traveller right now! “Cut it out.”
My radio was broken, but I tried to coax it to life nonetheless. Blamo! It worked! I was overjoyed, despite the fact that it was stuck on a Bollywood music station. Oh well. I was sure I’d begin to understand what they were saying soon enough. Whoever this “mamjami” was, I was sure he was romantic, and I knew he HAD to have a good story.
The green road sign said that I was nine minutes away. I looked in my rear view mirror, checking my teeth, running my fingers through my hair. I looked ok.
Gravel crunched under my car tires as I approached the farm house at the end of the long, dusty driveway. I can’t say I’m a huge fan of yellow paint-both interior and exterior-and yet, this pale yellow farm house had character. Old fruit crates, filled with dirt and dry looking herbs, lined the steps up to the porch. The cliché spot where a porch swing would have been, was taken up by three wooden stools instead. An old wine barrel sat in the corner, offering up a variety of patterned wool blankets.
I took a step towards the wine barrel of blankets.
The wood groaned beneath my left moccasin, and within seconds, the front door flung itself wide open.
Startled, I froze, my body tense. “Hello?” I said, trying to force confidence into my voice.
Why was there no one standing in the doorway? I thought. Who does that?! “Oh great, welcome to my house,” I mimicked aloud. “Let me scare the crap out of you by opening my door and disappearing.” Ridiculous.
I moved towards the door, adrenaline pumping through me. Knocking lightly on the door frame, I poked my head inside the sparsly decorated entrance way. Tony Bennett’s “Tender is the Night” echoed from somewhere inside the house. Just as I was about to re-consider the necessity of this first time meeting, I saw movement out of the corner of my eye.
Turning my head, I saw a tall man sitting in a high-backed beige armchair. White flecked his hair, but his eyes were alarmingly bright. He said nothing. Just looked at me.
My expression quickly changed from surprise, to my “it’s nice to meet you face,” and finally settled upon my unimpressed “are you kidding me” face. Straightening up, I clasped my hands behind my back. “Hi.” I said. “Do you know who I am?”
“Yes.” He replied, his voice husky and sweet.
“Well that’s a start.” I shut the door.
It would be okay, I thought as I made my way into his sitting room. I sat down in an armchair across from him, swinging my legs up and folding them beneath me on the seat.
Before I could think better of it, two words tumbled out of my mouth in slow motion.