My thought baggage arrived almost two months ago
And the rest of me now hurries after.
It was 10 p.m. when Lori Spring got the call. On the other end was a musician, one of the loves of her life.
“Come to Oklahoma City,” he beckoned, “and drive back to the West Coast with me.”
So she took her tip jar to the nearest open liquor store, cashed it in and boarded a train that night.
It was only enough to get her to Mesa, Ariz., with nothing left for food, emergencies or a return trip. But there she was able to cash in a savings bond that hadn’t yet matured, thanks to a gentleman bank teller wanting to help a pretty young lady. She boarded the next bus. Along the way she scribbled poetry in her notebook, capturing the landscape she saw passing outside. As well as the landscape within. At the end of the road she found her musician. And in some ways herself.
When I ask Lori, now Lori McCaffery, what enabled her to make such a journey without hesitation or fear of the unknown, she doesn’t think long. “I guess I would say I have faith in my ability to keep going.” And it’s a credo she still lives by to this day, almost 50 years after that wild fandango across the Southwest.
“I have faith in my ability to cope,” she told me over cherry pie at Marie Callender’s. “My mother always told me, ‘Figure it out, use your ingenuity.’ If I heard that once, I heard it a thousand times growing up.”
Lori’s single mother worked in a dime store to provide for her three children. Her father came and went, but eventually went for good. Raised in Longview, Wash., Lori recalls picking strawberries to earn money for school clothes.
A high school art teacher would be one of the great influences in Lori’s life, a teacher who didn’t exactly conform to the norms of the day. “She was totally different in this small town,” Lori recalls. “She smoked in the classroom, blowing it out the window. She cussed. ‘Damn the torpedoes’ was always her attitude.”