Thursday, February 20, 2014

Meandering Roads and the Jehovah's Witnesses

Back in Ohio a couple Jehovah's Witnesses would stop by to talk to me almost every month. I'm not religious in a Christian sense, but I never told them to go away because their tracts and readings always applied to me. It wasn't like those TV psychics and their "Did you have a relative whose name starts with a S?" kind of thing. I'm not sure how to explain it, but the fact that a mass-produced tract could be introduced into my life and actually be relevant just freaked me out every time it happened.

Now I live in Pennsylvania. Sometimes when I'm bored I like to drive through the countryside, passing farms and little towns, just seeing how far I can drive before I feel like I might get lost. Some of the street names are kind of weird, and I've noticed that most roads associated with farms are referred to as lanes instead of roads or streets. And some of the roads are named for whatever town they go to. It makes sense.

A couple weekend ago I had some time to waste so I drove past the quilting and sewing supply shop that kind of looks like a big red barn to see if they have Saturday hours, and they do. I didn't go in because I wasn't sure what I was looking for. I actually didn't even stop, just noted that they had an "OPEN" sign on the door at that time. I didn't want to look weird loitering outside a quilt shop.

I then took the road that curves to the right past some houses and a couple farms and over some hills near the base of the mountain. The lanes and other side streets between the farmland were still covered in ice and snow. The road I live on is usually cleared so I don't always know how good or bad the other roads are. I live on what is considered a busy road, but in a town with one stoplight that isn't really saying all that much. I drove along the mountain road until I found the other main road that either heads into town or heads away from town.

And I drove away from town. Past farms. Past the little township that only has a stop sign by the church. Past the small engine repair shop where hundreds of lawnmowers sat out front buried under a foot of snow, their handles protruding like metal-frame headstones. Past more farms. A couple houses. And more farms. 

Then, about twenty miles out, I found a decent-sized small town I had never seen before. I took note of the road that went off to the left past an old mansion. It was one of those oddly named roads since it goes to a town with an odd name. There was a sign for a library, but I didn't see where it was. There was a laundromat with a yellowed plastic sign, and a pizza place. The town had a few stop lights, making it bigger than the town I live in. I found another road that went to a state park that I've been to before, but it's pretty far away so I didn't want to try to reach it.

I turned around and drove back towards my town, filing away the details but mostly interested in how that town apparently connects over to that state park. I guess the place I had driven to approached the park from the opposite direction than how I had gotten to it before. It's a big park, though. I got home, and hadn't thought too much about it.

Tuesday afternoon I had a dentist appointment. The dentist has been repairing some messed up fillings that another dentist had done. During the filling repair the dentist found a bit of primary tooth stuck between two of my teeth, and it was in the way of the filling. He got surgical tools out and moved the stuck tooth part back and forth until it dislodged. That required about half an hour more than the filling repair was supposed to. My gums had gotten kind of cut up in the process, so the blue dental bib over my shirt was misted with blood. My face and the side of my head hurt despite the fact that my mouth had been numbed three times--pain medication doesn't last that long on me for whatever reason. He said I could get prescribed painkillers if it hurt too much the next day.

I kept taking ibuprofen that night and the next day. I probably would've liked the better painkillers, but didn't bother requesting them because I was too lazy to drive to the next town over to get the medication. I dealt with the face pain and stayed busy chipping ice off the driveway since it started to melt. 

Then I got the mail. I found an envelope addressed to me from an address in Pennsylvania. I don't know many people out here--maybe three who would know my address--so that was odd. The town name looked familiar. I opened it and skimmed over the long handwritten letter. Words. Bible verses. Okay, whatever. I wondered if it was from the guy who sends his manifesto to everyone within a twenty-mile radius. No, he's more political. This letter was from a woman. I didn't really read it, but unfolded it all the way and a religious tract fell out. I picked it up and laughed, and dropped the letter and tract and envelope on the counter. 

I walked away. Laughed some more. And then looked closer at the letter. It was from a Jehovah's Witness who lives about twenty miles away from me. My name was on the envelope, but spelled wrong by one letter, so I think she got it from the other Jehovah's Witnesses. I had told them what town I was moving to. It's a small town. They knew my name. The odd street name I noted on my last driving adventure, well, that road lead out to the town where this letter was from.

The tract enclosed with the letter--on a day I was struggling with annoying physical pain--was titled "Will suffering ever end?"

And now the Jehovah's Witnesses know where I am in Pennsylvania. Here's a post about the Jehovah's Witnesses back in Ohio.

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