One evening, as the sun was going down, I was driving along a winding country road. I lived in a house on this road. It was set back a ways, at the end of a long dirt drive, and there was a row of tall trees that lined the edge of the road along the front of the property. I drove right past the house without stopping. I had things on my mind, a decision I was struggling with. Further down the road, I came into town. I came to an intersection with a stoplight. I sat there for a while. I may have even dozed off. I seemed lost in another lifetime, full of cares and concerns of its own. But then someone came up behind me and honked their horn and yelled something at me out their window and shook me out of it. The light was green and I pulled ahead.
I pulled off into a parking-lot at the far corner of this intersection. There was a tiny brick building there that sat in the shadow of a larger office building. I felt compelled to go to this brick building, as though I had been summoned there or advised to go there, as if someone had told that I would find the answers to my problems there. I found a small empty vestibule inside, like the cramped lobby of a take-out place. There was a hand-written menu board hanging up. It covered the window where one would normally place their orders. I felt that I was speaking to someone on the other side of that board. I had an uncanny faith that there was someone stirring behind the board that heard me.
I stammered as I began to speak, stumbling over my words. I wasn’t sure how to explain what I was doing there, or how I had come to arrive there, by what steps and inclinations. I spoke about a dog. Back at the house, I had a dog, a dog that I’d had for many years, a dog that I loved and had grown attached to. But I had to give this dog up. I had to find another home for it. And it seemed that in my conflict over this, I had driven past the house, and I couldn’t go back until I had come to terms with what I had to do. I wasn’t sure what I was supposed to find in this dusty little shop. I wasn’t sure what I expected them to do for me or even what I was asking of them. I didn’t know why I was there. I grew embarrassed trying to put it all into words. My sentences trailed off, incomplete. My face went red. The person behind the menu board said nothing. It all seemed so pointless.
It was dark when I came back out. A little foreign woman had come down from the office building and she was crossing the parking-lot to her car. She had a stumpy, waddling way of walking. I stopped her and asked her about the proprietors of the brick shop across the way. She shook her head and spoke in a thick but indiscernible accent, “No, no. Is been empty for a long time. Is no one there.” I looked back at the building, sitting there so forlorn and dilapidated, so clearly vacant. It seemed so obvious now. A chill went through me.
When I got back to my car, my father and my brother and my step-brother were there. I climbed into the back seat. My father was driving, my step-brother was in the passenger seat, and my brother was in the back with me. We headed back down that same winding country road. It seemed even the clock was turned back. The sun was out again, on its way back down. We zipped right by the house again, going the other way. The row of trees rolled by on the passenger side this time, and I looked back at the house, wondering who was waiting for me there.
I had a guitar with me. I pulled it out from its case and began to sing, making up the song off the top of my head. I sang a ballad about the dog, the perennial source of my troubles. The words were goofy, inconsequential, but I belted them out, rhymes and passions, verses and chorus, rolling out effortlessly. I really got into it. I felt like this was what I needed to do. I was going to write songs now. It came so naturally to me. And so I sang, and so we went, my father driving and my brothers singing along, never knowing where this road would go.