God Bless The Broken Road

There’s a line in the movie, You’ve Got Mail (1998; Tom Hanks, Meg Ryan, Greg Kinnear) where Frank (Greg Kinnear) asks Kathleen (Meg Ryan), “How about you? Is there someone else?” and she responds, “No, but there’s the dream of someone else.” Frank and Kathleen have been romantically linked for some time but they both discover that they are not really in love with each other and it’s time to move on. Frank has already found a new interest (a TV talk show host) and Kathleen is involved in an email correspondence with a fellow that she has not yet actually met (at least that she knows of . . . you’ll have to watch the movie for the details). I just love this movie and I bet I’ve watched it more than a dozen times. It’s one of my favorites.

While it’s been many years since I have actually been involved with anyone (going all the way back to Iowa before I moved to Florida in June 1992), I have had some romantic interests since that time that never materialized into a relationship. I remember with great fondness one of my professors in my doctoral fellowship who was witty and fun and divorced but already attached to someone else. Of course there was my male mentor friend but that was not a romantic attachment. He’s always been like an older brother to me giving me advice on a variety of issues. And there was that fellow who seemed to really like me at the job in Houston that I lost seven months later and never saw him again. Man, I pined over him for way too long. But, I got the surprise of my life when I went to Houston two weeks ago and met “Red” and his daughter at the Red Roof Inn near Katy, TX (see post titled Rock Steady). We never exchanged contact information (I could kick myself for that now) but he lingers in my mind and won’t let go. Well, at least at my age it’s nice to know I’m not dead yet (as far as romantic feelings go).

I’ve spent so much time in the past three years and five months trying to find another job that romance was the last thing on my mind. Honestly, who wants to be with an unemployed woman my age who can’t find a job anywhere no matter how hard I’ve been looking? No, I decided that romance would have to wait until I got my life back together again (in other words, when I am gainfully employed again). Problem with that is that it’s been on hold for what seems like forever and nobody will hire me.

I went to Houston two weeks ago to see if I could get my work life back on track. I wasn’t going there for any other reason. I need a job, folks, and it’s been way too long since I’ve had one. And I liked Houston . . . I liked it a lot. Since things haven’t worked out for me here in the area I’ve been living in in Florida for the past three years, I needed to try a different place. Unfortunately a week and a half isn’t long enough to find a job (that’s how long I was in the Houston area), but I couldn’t afford to stay any longer and at least I was hoping to make some connections.

But I didn’t expect to meet someone like “Red.” I wasn’t looking for a romantic connection. I’m not sure what I was looking for other than a job. I remember how I felt as I entered the city after driving 17 hours straight to get there (arriving two weeks ago today on a clear blue sky Sunday morning). It wasn’t what I expected after anticipating a trip to Houston for the past several months. Here I was finally back in the city I was hoping to move back to and find work in, and my first thought as I left I-10 and merged onto 610 (which circles around the inner part of Houston) was “what the heck am I doing here?”

Well, I was very tired at that point in time from the incredibly long drive and fortunately it was a Sunday morning so I wasn’t stuck in rush-hour traffic, but still, I wasn’t so sure I belonged there anymore after driving so far to find out. My first stop was in the area I used to live in (just west of the Galleria) and as I drove around the area the thought crossed my mind that I was somewhat glad I didn’t live there anymore. Well, Houston is a big city so I didn’t have to live in that area again if I didn’t want to, so that realization was really no big deal. After that trip down memory lane I decided to go and see a friend and her husband in the northwest area of Houston, and I really enjoyed talking with her and meeting her husband for the first time. Spent several hours there before parting to find a hotel room for the night to catch up on some much needed sleep and decide what to do next. That’s when I found the Red Roof Inn near Katy, TX (a suburb of Houston). And that’s when I met “Red.”

I can’t imagine I looked too impressive at the time. I’d been up for over 36 hours at that point still wearing the same clothes I had put on 36 hours earlier, and my makeup had completely worn off somewhere while driving through Louisiana. No, I was not exactly at my most attractive and I was very, very tired. I remember when I was talking with him as he was sitting in his van with his daughter (I think they were getting ready to go find dinner somewhere) that the thought ran through my mind that I must look pretty haggard at that point in time, but he didn’t seem to mind.

One of the first things I noticed about him was his eyes. I always notice people’s eyes first but his eyes were the most beautiful, piercing blue eyes I had ever seen. I wish I had a picture of them. He had an attractive, rugged looking face and that reddish hair, and he seemed a bit shy (maybe he was just tired, too, from traveling from Louisiana). As I mentioned in a previous post (Rock Steady), when I first encountered them in the lobby his daughter told me that he used to be a pastor, but he didn’t mention that to me. He said he was a logger (almost apologetically as he thought most people wouldn’t be very impressed with that) but that he did make good money doing it. I told him as long as it was an honest living and he liked what he did that it didn’t matter what other people think. And I remember at that point that I felt very attracted to him, but, of course, after that brief conversation I didn’t see him or his daughter again.

The rest of my trip to Houston went by very quickly (including two days in Galveston that, other than my “chance” meeting with “Red” and his daughter, were the highlight of my entire trip). I found a weekly rental hotel about 30 miles north of Galveston on the outer edges of southeast Houston where I stayed for a week after my two days in Galveston, and I was out and about in that area a lot talking with people and going to a variety of places (met a great Christian couple in a Barnes & Nobles bookstore down the street from where I was staying and we had a delightful conversation). The time just went by too fast and while I contemplated staying a second week, I knew I couldn’t afford to financially as I was still paying rent on my seasonal rental back in Florida, so this past Wednesday morning when my week in the weekly rental was up I headed back to Florida arriving 18 hours later on Thursday morning.

The discovery I made by taking this trip was not what I expected. What I discovered was that I didn’t really have a strong desire to live in Houston again (although I must admit that I loved Galveston but I’m sure jobs are very hard to find there since it is a much smaller city). And, I discovered that God is not done with me yet in the romance department, even though I wasn’t looking for any type of romantic connection. I just wish I had given “Red” my contact information. Hey, maybe he could even teach me to be a logger, too. I’m looking for a job, you know . . .

I am very weary from my search for a job over the past three and a half years. It just seems so futile after all of this time. But meeting “Red” put a spark back in my life and has given me new hope. I’m reminded of what Isaiah 40:31 states, “but those who hope in the Lord will renew their strength. They will soar on wings like eagles; they will run and not grow weary, they will walk and not be faint.” My hope has always been in the Lord, and He has renewed my strength when I met “Red.”

So “Red,” this song is for you . . . .

YouTube Video: “Bless the Broken Road” (2009) by Rascal Flatts:

Photo credit here

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