Van Chronicles – Chapter 1

On the Road Again

What is that noise?

What it is, is Mick belting “wild horses couldn’t drag me away” into my eardrums at a decibel level set to wake the dead. I bolt upright and my feet hit the floor. The musical equivalent of a cold shower. When it’s that loud, my feet are conditioned to hit the floor and ask questions later. So far the feet have done their job. The next job is to locate the volume button and kill it. The clock says 3:45. What kind of ungodly hour is this?

I briefly console myself that if my passion were fly fishing, some days, this would be considered sleeping in. I hunch over the side of the bed, staring at my feet, which have done their duty and are just waiting for the rest of me to catch up. This is one of the times I thank my angels that I am not a fly fisherwoman. This is not an hour of the day I’d want to be visiting with on anything like a regular basis. Fortunately, my passion rarely calls on me to get up much before noon. The further away from noon it is, the higher the irritability index. My first thought is coffee. Actually, that’s my second thought. My first thought is, what am I doing sitting here at 3:46 in the middle of the very dark night, staring at the number change to 3:47. It comes to me. I’ve got a plane to catch.

And then I think of coffee.

As I head downstairs, Morning Girl is giving Night Girl a bit of a tongue-lashing. It seems like she’s not too pleased at Night Girl having stayed up later than she should have and deciding to shave off Morning Girl’s time allotment, which has been cut to 45 minutes to get me out the door. Night Girl has all the fun, and Morning Girl has to pay for it every time.

Coffee and a shower it is then – the bare minimum; no time to turn the computer on.

When Charlie the taxi driver calls me from the driveway at 4:20, I argue with him that it’s not my damn fault he’s ten minutes early, just hold your horses, pal; I’ve got ten minutes to pack up the laptop, grab some CDs for the flight and a cup of coffee for the road.

Charlie is in an extraordinarily good mood for someone who is up at this hour of the morning most days of the week. I make a mental note to add taxi driver on the night shift to my list, right after fly fisherwoman, of jobs I never want on my curriculum vitae.

“So, where ya going?” Charlie wants to know.

First to Philadelphia, to catch a connecting flight to Amsterdam is what my ticket says. “I’m going to see Van Morrison,” I tell Charlie.

“Whereabouts?”

“Amsterdam.”

It turns out Charlie likes Van too, and so does his wife. Being of a certain generation, he remembers Moondance from his college days. I wonder if he’s bluffing; it’s just odd to meet someone of a certain generation who claims to remember anything from their college days.

By the time Charlie drops me off at the airport, we are fast friends, as can only happen between taxi driver and occupant who have shared secrets first thing in the morning. Charlie’s got me in a good mood, and it’s not even five o’clock. But it’s a long way to Amsterdam. There is still a large room for error ahead of me yet.

to be continued …

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