Allensworth
Correspondence

Homesick in America

“Darlin,’” she said, “I’ll get that.  Go ahead and take it.”  She was a weathered-looking woman with mousy light brown hair drawn back in a bun and the plain, honest look of one of those faces you see in Depression-era photos from the Dust Bowl, faces that don’t smile—they are just themselves, making the best of circumstances as they are.  I was in a rundown convenience store attached to a truck stop near Huntsville, Texas, on a dreary, damp Saturday in February, trying to buy a Dr. Pepper with a credit card, since I was cash poor on a road trip.  The cashier lady couldn’t get the store’s new machine to read the chip.  A middle-aged black man in a battered old baseball cap was leaning against the wall opposite the counter, apparently a local just hanging around.  I looked over at him.  He grinned, and I saw lots of gold.  I told the lady that maybe I had some change in the truck, but she waved me off, “It’s all right, it’s all right.”  So I told her thanks, picked up the Dr. Pepper, and walked outside.

I was driving a big rental truck on my way to load up and haul furniture from a house in Houston—my wife and I were moving her sister—but I walked over to the pickup my wife was driving, making a cranking motion with my right hand, signaling her to roll down her window but forgetting that windows...

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