For ten years I drove Highway 287 from Colorado to Dallas, Texas. Leaving at 2:00 a.m. on a Friday morning to maximize my time at the destination (a 12 hour trip, one way, returning two days later), many of the miles were spent in between points of civilization at rest. Raton, New Mexico to Dalhart, Texas. Dalhart to Amarillo. Amarillo to Wichita Falls.
It’s not necessarily like the Gobi Desert in between – there are tiny towns, hamlets, and collections of abandoned buildings peppered along the way, but they all have one thing in common. A truck stop.
And truck stops serve coffee.
Now, I like a freshly pressed cup of coffee as much as the next weary traveler, but each time I arrive at a stop, ‘Earl’ has apparently taken all of the freshly pressed coffee for his 64 ounce plastic tumbler, leaving me with the dregs from the pot brewed the previous evening. When this is all there is, it’s what you take. Add powdered creamer and a little hot water, and you have…road coffee.
It’s not difficult to see that in absence of something important, settling becomes an option. This works for both tangible and intangible things, like coffee, or cheese, or companionship, or even…love.
I’ve gone an unimaginable five years without dating, or even holding a hand. Call it an extended recovery period from my 30’s and 40’s. We find ways to cope, but the need for intimacy is never gone, in fact, it becomes stronger. I believe that coping is not a lifelong solution – life is too short to live without the warm touch of a kindred soul. No, coping is the supplement.
Technology brings us closer in mind, but not in body. Withdrawals from something as simple and as taken for granted as touch, never abate. There’s no antidote for loneliness, but the treatment is communication; a treatment that when applied over time and distance has the unintended effect of deepening loneliness because…it lacks touch.
One of the things I’ve learned over time is tenderness. Be it in conversation or in touch, each requires a purpose. What we crave instinctively is the warmth of another person, but when that warmth is paired with purpose, look out. Touch may have the ability to solve arguments, if applied correctly.
Call it a theory I’d like to test.
It makes one wonder if there is a logic as to why coffee houses make such ideal settings for a first date. I can vouch for the fact that truck stops do not.
But then, I wasn’t looking.