I met him in a Rite Aid parking lot in Durango, Colorado. He was wearing a purple shirt with the small insignia of “Kansas State” in the middle of the chest right below the buttons. He had a round, white wrinkled face and a balding blonde head. He hunted bullfrogs for fun. His name was Kenny.
Kenny told me about his wife from Mexico. She couldn’t speak English when they first met. “How’d you communicate?” I asked. He said lots of hand-holding and eye contact and smiling. She’s a nurse, a voracious reader, especially history books. “She knows the history of the whole world.” Her father told her to get out and get an education and not marry a Mexican man. Her 83-year-old mother has Parkinson’s now so she’s staying in Mexico to take care of her. His eyes began watering, but he said it was just the sunscreen running into his eyes. He paused, smiled, and finally he said: “She’s so special. She’s the most special person I’ve ever met.”
Kenny says Colorado is different now than it was 20 years ago. Now it’s filled with “fruitcakes with a lot of money.” He frowned. He grew up on a dairy farm 30 miles west of Wichita, Kansas. Once he saw a man in Tahiti ride the back of a sea turtle into the ocean. Once he broke his neck while crossing a no-sign, four-way gravel road intersection in Kansas. It was two 20-year-old girls that “turned my truck into a banana.”
He travels around and lives out of his car like me. He loves the road, like me.