Tuesday, December 9, 2014

Attitude is Altitude

Report from a Flying J Truck Stop on I-20 in Dallas, Texas: Curtis dreams of having an Airstream one day. The one he wants is 23 feet and the down payment is $4000. He saw a documentary on tiny houses, like the one our friend Jan inhabits and he says that's the way of life for him. 

Right now he lives in a very tiny house - his Jeep Cherokee. He said for us not to feel down about it because "Attitude is Altitude" and he could see we were happy people just like him. We all spent the night in the parking lot of the Flying J truck stop. The other day, my Dad said I should have an honorary degree from Flying J. They have a handy guide that shows which Flying J's have lanes for RV's to park overnight -- I take notes in it. We just got a new one, which I was excited about in a way I could not have imagined when I sat in Gail Gibson's class on Women, Mysticism, and Authority at Davidson College or when I was living in Paris studying saints.

Curtis likes the Flying J, too. The staff seem to understand that people just want to sleep, use the restrooms, and buy some tic-tacs or peanut butter crackers and keep moving on down the line. Curtis hadn't planned on a nomadic life either. He worked in the oil and gas industry for 30 years in seismic technology, then he and his wife of 19 years got divorced and Curtis became homeless except for his Jeep Cherokee. I wonder if car makers ever imagine the people who will live in their cars and how they can be better temporary homes?

Curtis was one of the most positive people I've ever met, ever, truly. He had a great smile and a big laugh. He said living in the Jeep Cherokee gave him time to think. He says he feels tranquil without a 3000 square foot house, two cars, and the stress that came with that and the constant tension between him and his wife. 

Curtis is worried about where we are headed as a nation. Catching the seriousness of his concern I asked, "Rome at the fall of the Empire?" He said, "Babylon." But he was optimistic, too, especially for us. "Your light will protect you," he said in benediction.

He was thrilled to visit the Airstream -- said he saw it when he pulled in last night. He went to sleep hoping we'd still be there in the morning. And we were. He didn't want to alarm us by knocking on the door, so he waited until he saw Billy checking the tires and then asked about our Airstream. He said he was just hoping for a quick chat, he didn't expect to get a tour of the inside, make friends, and take some music back to his Jeep. He said this is a very good day for him. It is for us, too, and it's only 3pm!

Curtis is picking up the pieces and starting again at age 61, and he feels really good about it. He's looking forward to seeing how it all unfolds. "I have walked through fire, but I didn't get burnt," he said. He said he's not alone and that God is walking with him, keeping him company. He put me in mind of these words of Julian of Norwich, one of the mystics I studied with Gail, "All shall be well, and all shall be well, and all manner of things shall be well." This was Curtis's mantra and he sang it in laughter, hugs, and smiles. He sang it with us and we are the brighter for it.

Curtis as the sun disguised for social media and Billy doubled over with laughter about something Curtis said.

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