Five Years Ago…

Five years ago today, I was stranded in Knoxville, Tennessee. I had headed out the day before for my new life in Vermont. I had everything planned. I was going to drive that first day to Blacksburg, Virginia, to see a friend of mine who was a Ph.D. student at Virginia Tech. Then I would drive the next day to Albany, New York. I had reservations at a historic hotel in downtown Albany. Then I would spend the third day of my trip driving the rest of the way to Vermont. Life has a way of throwing a wrench in your plans because none of those plans happened.

I set out that Wednesday morning on October 7, 2015, and things looked like they were going so well. Then while driving down I-40 just outside of Knoxville, I hit some large piece of metal (well about the size of my head) in the road.  It punctured my gas tank.  I had no choice as semi-trucks flanked me on both sides.  Luckily, no sparks were present, and I could pull off to the side of the road and call 911.  The local fire department arrived and neutralized the gas, and my car was towed to a local garage.  The tow truck was kind enough to take me to a hotel.  So, I was stuck in Lenoir City, Tennessee, in a hotel. My insurance company provided me with a rental car while mine was being fixed, but it would not arrive until the next afternoon. Luckily, there was a Mexican restaurant next door to my hotel, so I could at least get something to eat, but emotionally, I was as wrecked as my car. I had called my new boss and told her what had happened, but she insisted that I had to be there by a specific date, and I could not be delayed. Luckily, I did make it to Vermont in time.

As I was finishing packing my car before beginning my journey to Vermont, a good friend of mine wrote to me to give me this advice:

I’m so excited for you starting off this new adventure and, more importantly, putting the past behind you. A friend once told me to not just look ahead but to metaphorically turn a corner because then if you should ever glance back, you won’t be able to see what’s behind you because it’ll be out of your sights. Good advice to go and never look back. This poem reminded me of a song on the radio. Every time I hear it, I smile and think of you. Play it as you hit the gas and drive like hell out of the south.

He then sent me the Andy Grammar song “Good To Be Alive (Hallelujah).” These days, I have a really hard time listening to this song because I had no idea that by the end of the next month, my friend would die in a car accident, but today, I don’t want to dwell on that. Today, I want to say: Hallelujah, it is good to be alive. I can’t help but wish my friend was also still alive. He would be so happy with the way things have gone in my life since. Yes, there have been ups and downs, but overall, I do have a new life and a life that I love.

About Joe

I began my life in the South and for five years lived as a closeted teacher, but am now making a new life for myself as an oral historian in New England. I think my life will work out the way it was always meant to be. That doesn't mean there won't be ups and downs; that's all part of life. It means I just have to be patient. I feel like October 7, 2015 is my new birthday. It's a beginning filled with great hope. It's a second chance to live my life…not anyone else's. My profile picture is "David and Me," 2001 painting by artist Steve Walker. It happens to be one of my favorite modern gay art pieces. View all posts by Joe

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