Sunday, December 9, 2007

Many Partings

I made it down the coast in seventeen hours
Pickin’ me a bouquet of dogwood flowers...
I'm a headed out west past the Cumberland Gap
To Johnson County, Kentucky
And if I die in Raleigh, at least I will die free.

This weekend, a big group of us volunteers converged upon the Johnson House, once again, to enjoy the company of our friends in fellowship and love. There was much merrymaking, singing, storytelling, and story making. We spent our first night at the closest thing to a bar in Eastern Kentucky, the Best Western Inn lounge and dance floor! We were enjoying the smoky atmosphere, locals, loud and terrible music, as well as the expensive beer. David got a Smirnoff Ice, as he usually does, and I got a Killian's Irish Ale. Our comrades were dancing up a storm all over the place, especially when Old Crow Medicine Show's "Wagon Wheel" came on. The aforementioned quote is an excerpt from that song. David started doing the dance where you put your hands on your knees and cross them over, much in the manner of an awkward white man. The locals looked at him with a half tilted head and contorted face. Afterwards, we got the expected, "ya'll aren't from around here are yew?..." How could they tell? How can they always tell"...

My other run in with the locals happened after mass on Sunday morning. A group of 6 of us went to the early mass at a small, sleepy Catholic church called St. Luke's. After mass, which was wonderful, the locals were inviting us downstairs for some breakfast. But, we had to get back to the Johnson house to head back to our own sided of the state. Then a man approached me who was wearing a flannel shirt, suspenders, golden spectacles, no shoes, rolled up green knickers, and had a long Walt Whitman style beard. The man had a jolly, round demeanor and a loud Kentucky voice. He said, "Aw come on! We have biscuits and gravy down there...although (then points to me, reaches over and pats my belly) I don't think you need any more of that gravy do yew boy, a heh heh heh!"............To which I replied, ", heh....." Jennie, my house mate looked shocked and pleasantly delighted at this jolly fellow's observation of my portly nature. I didn't quite know how to take it, but decided I should probably do some more push ups later tonight.

After we said our goodbyes to our friends, we headed back home to Jackson county. It was a long, extended goodbye because David Frank, one of our house mates and housing crew members was leaving us permanently, headed back to Florida and further adventures. Frank and I had developed a reputation as trouble making pranksters, or generally deviant fellows. There was the time we filled up a plastic pumpkin man with leaves and put it in Ross' bed before he came home. Or, the time we went caving and I had to carry Frank across all the watery gaps. Or there was the time we danced around the moon bow, down in McCreary County. Or the time we slept in the teepee we built over at Johnson house. Or, the time when we went out into the woods to find our Christmas tree in the snow, and ended up getting caught in thorn bushes. We couldn't find a proper tree, so we came back with a branch, singing "Oh Christmas Tree." We duck tapped the branch to a light pole, decorated it, and let the Church roll on. Or, there was the day he and I ate an entire bag of prunes in the morning and farted literally every 3 minutes throughout the day, much to the horror of Laura. I can't count how many times we ambushed Ross or Jesse late at night in the halls, how many times we wrestled in the living room, how many prank calls we made, how many stink bombs we dropped on our old crew leader, Ross man the boss man, but they were numerous. We would often rumble other housing crews from other counties, mainly Don and David Hegstrom (aka UBS man) from McCreary County. In typical David Frank manner, he started up his motorcycle to ride off into the sunset, coasted 10 feet down the hill and killed the engine. He coasted for a few more feet and fired it up again, sped away, down the hill, out of the mountains, and toward Tennessee.

It's important not to miss the people you are with while you are with them. Every person who comes into your life weaves their own part of the story of your life, as you weave your part of the story into their life. Ultimately everybody leaves, as Monseigneur says. But as Fr. Tom always said, "You still have yet to meet some of your best friends." And that is an encouraging thought. But, it is so important to love and share and laugh all you can. In terms of our work, you do all you can to help the people we serve, and then, when you say that you have done all you can do, you commend the rest of the work to be done here in to the willing hands of those who you leave behind. David's part in the CAP story has ended...for now, as each of us must come and go in the telling. But, undoubtedly, his spirit, influence, and (I fear) the smell of his flatulence shall linger here for quite some time.


"There are things you do because they feel right. And, they may make no sense. And they may make no money. And it may be the real reason we are here: to love each other and to eat each other's cooking and say it was good."


Anonymous said...

Let's be honest here, you just can't beat a Best Western in Eastern KY, especially with a lounge that serves Irish ale!
Your belly is not portly, at least not now.
Tip of the hat to Mr. Frank.
Winter winds are a blowin, baby's house is drafty, so keep on a buildin.

Anonymous said...

Your last paragraph was beautiful. Carpe diem.

Anonymous said...

was it so obvious that i was "pleasantly delighted"?