Take Highway 6 to Bryan, where you get to Highway 190, which takes you directly to Merryville, La. This is what Mapquest led us to believe. The secret it was hiding was that in Madisonville you have to go south on I45 for a few dozen miles in order to pick 190 back up. You have to hit "Zoom In" for that secret to be revealed. Because the secret was unknown to me, and because of the good conversation with a good friend about other good friends, we got lost.
I talk about East Texas often. Get out a map, find U.S. 75 at the Oklahoma border and go down until you get to Dallas. In Dallas 75 becomes I45, which takes you directly into Houston. Everything east of that line is considered East Texas. Houston doesn't count. Houston is an oil whore that lost her East Texas soul many years back.
But there are really two East Texases: The one I'm familiar with and the one I'm not. The path we were supposed to take was through the one I'm not familiar with. So when I started seeing signs for towns that I'm vaguely familiar with (Lufkin, Palestine) I realized we were slightly off course. But nothing a stop in Crockett and the purchase of a map couldn't fix.
And this one of the great things about the trip: In any other situation that hour off course would have been wasted. I lose an hour at work, I lose a lot of work. An hour on vacation is of no significance when the point of vacation is to vacate. And not just to vacate your responsibilities or your place, but to vacate your normal sense of time. Vacated was my being bound to a clock, which often ties me down.
When we finally arrived in Merryville, Jason, who from now on will be referred to as "Fortenberry," to prevent any obvious mixups, was waiting for us on his front porch with a friend.
Merryville, Lousiana: Population 1100. Merryville is spread out, so the population seems much smaller.
Fortenberry's house is an old renovated train depot located where most train depots are located, next to the tracks. Turning the corner onto the street Jason noticed the sign in a shop that read "We Special Order Guns."
People love their signs. Especially churches in East Texas. Most of the church signs we read said basically the same thing: Hell is hot and you might go there. While Jason was reading his demon book, Harry Potter, I noticed a sign on the sign of a small Lutheran church that seemed to almost be in defiance of the blatant spiritual fear mongering going on in the areas: "God misses you, and so do we." Which sounds more like Good News?
The first part of the evening was spent catching up. Who is where and doing what with whom and why and when did they decide?
I was informed by Fortenberry the day before we arrived that I'd be leading a Bible study on our first night there. I was also informed that the upcoming Sunday would be the Sunday he was announcing his resignation and that I should be sensitive to that. (Church talk for "don't tell a soul."
So we got there, I led the Bible Study-- a condensed version of the Acts 17 sermon I gave last fall at UBC, and it was good. The guys in the house were all hilarious.
At the end of the night-- an interesting phenonemon occured. Three television sets in three rooms were hooked up to three different Playstations (or XBox, or Atari-- I'm not sure) and 9 guys between the ages of 18 and around 60 killed each other in a game called "Halo." Actually, make that 8 guys. I spent 5 minutes trying to figure out who I was. When I finally located my screen, I started doing worse than when I was just pushing buttons. I bowed out after the first couple of games and took a nap on the couch while waiting for the professionals to finish.
The previous few weeks at work at been kind of rough, and there was a knot in the place where my back met my left shoulder. I was accutely aware of it while napping.
To be continued...