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Monday, September 10, 2018

Ridin' Along, Singin' a Song - A Memoir of Friendship (Part 2)

Somewhere in Monument Valley

Jerry and I took our first road trip together in November of 2007. He’d been forced by emergency surgery to miss the previous year’s AYE conference, and I went to visit him for a few days in March 2007 while he was still recovering. Though he’d been writing fiction, it was harder for him than non-fiction, and Jerry was taking a break from it.
Playing with Caro

We spent the week as writing buddies. Jerry was writing “Perfect Software” and I was working on a long piece about end-to-end system integration testing. We’d write each morning in our respective solitudes, have lunch together at the Weinberg house, then read, review and discuss each other’s work in the afternoon. In late afternoon we’d go to wonderful places, like the Bosque Wildlife Reserve, or the Rattlesnake Museum. And we played with the dogs.

Looking up water birds at the Bosque

By then we knew each other pretty well. We’d met at PSL in 2001 and at AYE conferences from 2003, and I’d been in the SHAPE Forum and his Consulting Skills workshop. Jerry had mentored me through the whitewater rapids of my work on several troubled projects, and we had an extensive email correspondence covering a vast range of topics. He’d reviewed article drafts for me, and I’d reviewed drafts of his first novel and some of his other fiction.

At the end of the visit, I made Jerry an offer. I knew he had always driven to Phoenix for AYE and would be determined to drive as usual that November. After what he’d been through, I was worried about him doing that drive alone, and I suspected Dani would also be concerned. We’d had an easy companionship over the course of my visit and we’d never stopped talking. I thought Jerry and I could enjoy a road trip together, so I offered to drive with him to the next AYE. Knowing Jerry, I put it on a business basis: suggesting that I’d do the drive in exchange for payment of my expenses on the way. “Humph”, said Jerry. “We’ll see”. I flew home; we emailed as usual, and continued reviewing.

Next thing I knew, it was a done deal. Not only were we doing the drive together, but Jerry suggested that we should make a little vacation of it. Instead of driving the 400 miles in a day, we’d explore some of the glories of the Southwest, taking 4 days to get to Phoenix and 4 days back by a different route. He started planning a tour.

I hadn’t driven a car with a manual shift in years, so I took a couple of lessons to brush up. We exchanged emails about what music we’d listen to in the car and I pulled together a batch of CDs.

We never listened to a single one. What do you think happens when you put two people-who-never-shut-up in a car together for days on end? We talked endlessly. About everything.

We shared a love of road trips and of driving, of dogs, of Baroque music and Mozart, of natural wonders and of native ruins. We both liked back roads and country diners and trading posts. We had a similar (okay, sometimes awful) sense of humour. Our driving styles were compatible—fast, but not outrageously so. It was the first major outing for Jerry's new Jeep (and I got chocolate on the passenger seat). At first, Jerry wanted to do most of the driving, but he gradually relinquished control and l drove more and more.

Sometimes we played word games or sang silly songs neither of us really knew the words to:

Oh, we ain't got a barrel of money
Maybe we're ragged and funny

But we’re ridin’ along, singin’ a song
Side by side

Off-road on the Mogollon Rim
 Every day we went to fabulous places. I took too many photographs. Sometimes we took a short hike. One splendid day we went off-road for miles along the Mogollon Rim. Jerry’s son Keats went to AYE that year, and on the way back we met him and his family to explore the native ruins at Walnut Canyon and then got together again at the Grand Canyon South Rim. Last stop was Chaco Canyon.

Evenings were for quiet time. We’d have an early dinner, then retire to our respective motel rooms for some much-needed solitude, emails and other introverted computer stuff.

Did I mention that we had a lot of fun?

It was a pattern we were to repeat, with variations, for 3 more road trips to AYE. (But I never again bothered to bring CDs.)

Jerry climbed steadily straight up that stair. I had to take a breather.

Reading tourist info aloud at Chaco Canyon

To be continued. 

1 comment:

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