The Green Manalishi and the Plymouth Duster

(Another ex-fiancée story.)

July, 1981. Driving Omaha-Dallas to visit an old girlfriend. First time south of Kansas City, first time driving any distance by myself, armed with a Rand McNally, a six-pack of Pepsi and an overabundance of youthful exuberance.

Everyone who is nineteen and making their first roadtrip must share the same impressions and perceptions as I—literally everything was new to my eyes, and with that same lack of perspective, must have been new to everyone. After all, my parents had only been as far as Wichita once years ago, and never to Oklahoma City…Dallas–I was heading there, I was setting a standard!

Terra Incognita—Emporia, Kansas—gas and another bag of ice. Rolling up to the tollbooth with Judas Priest on cassette. (State of the art. Wow.) Unleashed In The East—still good now, but playing in frequent rotation on my aftermarket Blaupunkt deck back then.

The promise of adventure was more than delivered on, I moved to DFW a year later. It was either Descartes or Bob Seger who lamented, “Wish I didn’t know now what I didn’t know then”, heading back to Omaha after eighteen months with my tail and a few other things between my legs, but what didn’t kill me ultimately made me stronger.

July, 2001. Ford Windstar (with air conditioning!), family and MIL taking the grand tour of DFW/IAH/SAT, first time that they’d been to Texas, and the first time for the kids and MIL to see salt-water! Indeed, what doesn’t kill you…Top of the world. Running my game.

Coming up to the tollbooth again (interchange had been remodeled, but work with me here), I couldn’t help but sing the outro to “Green Manalishi”…

And crossing the Red River the next morning, tear in my eye as I crossed the border. Closure.

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Author: Damon Hynes

Used to chase tornadoes, until Ma Nature ran out of them...

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