Memories : Good Old Mark (1)

It was 1979.
I was 20 years old.
The people that had been
In the youth group at church
When I was in high school
Decided to take one last trip.
To a place called Syria.

Now, I don’t mean
The country named
Nope, not that at all.
Syria, in this case
Is a place in Virginia.

The group had been there
Several times through the years.
I’d been there once
With the group.

That had been hell for me.
That was the start
Of a nightmare in my life
That lasted for years.
Started with that trip
In the Summer of 1976.
In some ways
That nightmare’s never ended.

Every trip the group
Had ever taken
To Syria, Virginia
Had been wrought with problems.
Overheating cars.
Getting lost.
You name it.

They’d made 4 trips
As I remember.
Each time they’d planned
To be there at
1600 hours or so.
And each time
They’d arrived
Better than 2 hours late.

So, on this one last trip
They all wanted to make
They decided to let me
In my 1979 Ford Pinto
Lead the driving
To the retreat.

We met at the church
On the morning of the trip.
We’d drive west
On Interstate 64.
Until we got to Charlottesville.
Then, we’d take 29 North.
And from there,
We’d move to 2 lane roads.

I had the entire trip
Memorized in my head.
Did you know
That since 2nd grade
When we took those silly
Aptitude tests they make you take,
I’d been 98% proficient with a map?

It’s damn near impossible
To get me lost.
Always has been.
I have this sense
Of direction.
I know which way is wrong.
Don’t ask how.
I can’t explain it.
I just know.

So we left on the trip that day.
And from Charlottesville on,
The group all followed me.

You can just imagine
How the people of the retreat center
Reacted on that day.
When the bunch of us arrived
When we were supposed to.

If anything
We were early getting there.

That’s something
That had never happened
With that entire group
On a trip to Syria before.

And the leaders of the group,
The ones that planned the trip,
And worked out the details,
And the finances,
All basically said
The same thing.

“We followed good old Mark.”


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