Foothills surrounded the dry two-lane road that led home.
Oil rigs heavily pumped as some just sat in awe of the red sky as it began to take down some of the warm air with it.
Telephone poles connected together by hanging cords that appeared to move up and down if you watched from lying down in the backseat.
Somewhere on that drive, there was a burned structure of a historic hotel still standing, which was the last evidence that the tiny town had once flourished with people.
But to me as a little boy, it still flourished. Maybe not with people, but with sunsets, nightly stars, pet animals, young friends, old family, trees to climb on, grass to roll on, and time to spare.
Driving home from Taft to my home in Derby Acers, I remember turning my head and looking up to see my dad. He was younger then—not that tired from a hard day’s work in the oilfields.
Paper bags of mixed groceries sat together in the back, and I held a Happy Meal box in my hands, eager to get to the toy Hot Wheel that hid under the warm fries I was so eager to throw into my mouth.
After looking at my dad, I turned back to watch the road like he was. He seemed to keep a safe eye on that road. Or maybe it was that red sky falling over those foothills beyond it he so intently observed.
It’s now that red sky I envision on that road when I think about my childhood.
The sunset and childhood are both so full of wonder and both so fleeing.
Back then, on that road, with my dad, there wasn’t poppy music to occupy the calm silence. There wasn’t handheld video game systems with new levels to conquer. There wasn’t cell phones, texting, or email to communicate with people who weren’t there.
It was just us.
And I called it home.
It’s where my mind meditated. It’s where my imagination grew. It’s where I learned how to be alive.
Often times it’s where I would like to go back. And in a way, maybe I can.
Maybe we can.
Maybe that’s what reconciliation is all about—riding in a car with our father, going where he takes us, and trusting he’s going to get us home.