A note from the author: Old love letters are a bit like scars. You wish you didn't have them, but they are useful. They serve as a reminder that you made it through the wound. I survived with scars and old letters. Someone once told me you should burn old love letters, but I prefer to throw them out to sea. If you happen to find this in a moment of need, please remember: one day this will all be nothing more than a scar...and a faded memory.
Sometimes I like to take drives to nowhere. Windows down, radio up, mind clear. I challenge myself to get lost and then see if I can find my way back again. I assign bonus points if I stumble upon one of those little rural Main Street USA towns; the kind comprised primarily of a church and handful of century-old brick farmhouses with ample front porches. (The kinds of porches that undoubtedly display a jack-o-lanterns for every child in the house when halloween rolls around.) The kinds of towns and cities you'd miss if you glanced downward to adjust the radio while hitting the gas pedal. Those towns are some of my favorite country drive discoveries. They make me feel like I've been let in on a secret, a little roadside whisper that doesn't want the rest of the world to overhear.
Today I took a country drive. I made decisions about which turns to take based on things like which street name I liked better. If I saw a tree to the east with a prematurely orangey autumn leaf...I turned to the east. If a saw a jogger with an iPod or someone talking on a cell phone, I headed the opposite direction. I paid no attention to the course, I just went where my heart told me it wanted to go.
When I finally came back down to earth, I found myself on a road called Big Walnut. I was at a lake I didn't know existed, looking at the tiniest island I had ever seen.
I got out of the car to take a closer look. The only other person around was an old black man fishing. He had a white bucket, but I didn't look inside. He looked like something from a movie set in Mississippi; the kind of character that would have been listed as "Wise, Old Fisherman" in the credits (though I have no way of telling if he was really wise). Wise, Old Fisherman was curious about me, I could tell. Probably annoyed someone had found his secret shoreside hideaway, but I was quiet and he let me be. He just tipped his hat and cast his line. I wanted to ask if his name was Charlton.
Off in the distance sailboats were playing with one another. Back and forth, back and forth...as this little island shyly watched on.
Call it serendipity or happenstance or simply unconventional afternoon road trip unmapping, but here is what I know: following my heart lead me to a secret island today.
And every road I take leads me back to you.