September 30, 2011
We certainly meant well — Pat and I. Having received news that our friend and colleague, Glenda, had lost her mom, we talked about dates, times, and location. Although neither of us would be able to attend the graveside service, we decided to show our support at the visitation at a funeral home in Sanger. At the time, it sounded do-able.
“Just four miles north of Denton,” were the directions included in a school email. Denton. How hard could that be?
I earned my Master’s degree from the University of North Texas, so I knew the route well. It was the “north of” part that bothered me. Over the years, I have discovered that finding my way to a new place in daylight is easy. Come dark, though, the familiar turns foreign. Still, remembering that Glenda came to my mother’s funeral, I was willing to brave it.
After I explained my plight to Pat, she agreed to drive. After she picked me up at my house, we launched out in six o’clock traffic, shielding our eyes from a sun that eclipsed the road signs. God, her Mapsco, and my iPhone were our only guides.
Okay, I hear you: “Don’t you have a GPS?”
As a matter of fact, I do — and she’s silenced forever. After arguing with the directions dictated by the British female voice, I chunked her into a drawer. What does she know about the roads in Texas? Not once did I hear her say “Y’all”.
But back to our saga.
Finally clear of the traffic, we were rolling along, right on schedule, until we passed the UNT football stadium. Even though my eyes were glued to the little blue dot — Pat’s car — inching along on my phone map, I stopped recognizing landmarks. We were officially in uncharted territory — and the sky was now dark. Still confident we’d find an exit to Sanger, we pushed on.
When we saw the Gainesville City Limit sign, I remembered a famous line from The Wizard of Oz. You know the one: “Toto, I don’t think we’re in Texas….”
Yep, the Oklahoma line was up ahead. On my right, winking in all its tawdry, neon glory, was WinStar Casino.
On our way back south, Pat and I laughed about the way the night ended. We had the road trip of all road trips. As we wolfed down Hunger-Buster burgers and steak fingers and spooned up Blizzards at the Valley View Dairy Queen at ten o’clock, we agreed the night was not a total waste. Normally limited to only a few words in passing, we were catching up on each other’s lives. How long had it been since we had time to talk like that?
It was almost midnight when we arrived at my house. We had missed the visitation we had started out for. But, as I watched Pat pull out of my driveway, I realized. once more, that the night had worked out exactly as it was supposed to. We had been to a visitation, after all. Ours.