Play Misty for Me

Austin, NevadaMany years ago there was a Clint Eastwood movie, Play Misty for Me. It was one of the psychodramas of the time and quite spooky. The title for my article was a free association based on my acquaintance, which I’ll tell you about.

Thursday evening came and my friend Jimmy arrived home from his first job. He looked into my room and remarked “I see boxes by the door, but it doesn’t look like you’re ready to leave.” I shrugged and said “Well, maybe Saturday, maybe Sunday… I have some work to do on this project that will take me a few hours.”

It was really hot that afternoon — the 4Runner’s dash thermometer read 102F. The Girl and I had been running errands, wrapping up a small project, procuring necessary items for my next trip, and trying to stay cool. I had been working on my report to address comments from the prime before I headed out. It was too hot to sleep yet anyway. But, I got settled down about 2300 and slept pretty well.

Friday morning came and while drinking my morning coffee, I decided I could get away if I really wanted to. So the Girl and I made our walk, I worked out, fed us, and got started on the last few things. It took me about a half-hour to pack them, so I showered and began loading the rig. I took my time with the rig because I faced a huge Tetris problem. In the end, I got my things in there plus the few things I wanted to stow in my unit.

We were out of the house by about 1100 and headed for Carson to take care of some last errands and stow those things I was leaving behind. On the way out of town we stopped at Sportsman’s Warehouse to pick up a couple last things, said goodbye to my neighbor (who works there), and then headed east on U.S. 50.

It was a much cooler afternoon than Thursday. I could have worked and been fine at Jimmy’s. Oh well… I had no idea. Regardless, it was good to be moving again. We stopped in Fallon for a few minutes to get out of the car and drink some water. I picked up a couple of geocaches along the way as well.

One of our stops was near Sand Mountain, to find a geocache. I thought about driving out there, but could tell it was already crowded with weekenders and decided that I didn’t want to interact. So, after the Girl chased a few lizards and I logged the geocache, we headed on.

I stopped at the Austin, Nevada cemetery to find another geocache, hoping it would be large enough to accommodate a couple of travel bugs I’d been hauling around. But, the hide was a small container so no joy.

I also was tiring and didn’t think I’d be able to make Eureka or Ely. In looking at lodging in Austin, the Cozy Mountain Motel got a lot of good reviews. But, when I drove by, the No Vacancy sign was already illuminated. So, I looked again and found the Pony Canyon Motel. The price was a little higher than I expected and I was surprised when I learned there was no air conditioning. But that wasn’t really bad as the evening cooled quickly.

The Girl and I settled in and were sitting outside enjoying the late afternoon air and light — watching the world go by. I noticed the beautiful light and retrieved my Fuji X-T1, making the capture above.

A young woman pulled in beside my rig and started rushing her things, including two cats, into her room adjacent to mine. The Girl took too much interest in the crated felines and drew a correction. “Sorry about that,” I said.

“No worries… they are so much work to take care of, not like a dog.”

“Well, dogs just require a different kind of work.”

“I gotta hurry, the restaurant closes at eight…” and off she flew. When she returned, I was boiling water to add to my freeze-dried supper, lasagna with meat sauce. I’m experimenting with backpacking meals. All that is required is the foil packet, boiling water, and a spoon. A long-handled spoon really helps. (I’ll write about that more in another article.) She walked past with her boxed pizza. “I see you made it.”

“Yep, health food,” she responded. The Girl’s nose went up as she walked by. “Must be pepperoni,” I said, “The Girl loves pepperoni.”

“I’ll save her some, then.”

“Don’t do me any favors, she’ll gas me.” We both laughed.

After I ate and cleaned up, I sat on the bench outside my room with my guitar, playing softly. A new goal of mine is to do those things that are important to me daily — reading, writing, music, photography. I’m working on getting some of my skill back on the instrument. So, I want to play a few minutes everyday. She came out of her room to get a few more of her things and smiled as she passed.

When she returned, she sat down in a nearby chair. I played for a few minutes and then she began to talk. She is learning the ukulele. She had no artistic encouragement when she was young and a friend had encouraged her to play. She took up the ukulele as something relatively easy to play and quite portable.

“Are you practicing regularly?”

“No. I often intend to, but I don’t. I binge, playing hours on one day and then nothing for a week.”

“You should commit to 15-minutes per day,” I suggested. “Don’t be regimented about it, like ‘I have to practice today,’ but make it something you do because you want to, because you get something from it. Don’t beat yourself up if you miss a session. But you’ll build muscle memory much faster if you practice regularly, even if it’s just a few minutes.”

I used to teach music in another life. My encouragement to my students was always to practice a little. Make it a focused session and keep it short. The goal is to be regular and focused. That’s the fastest way to learn and it’s a lot more fun.

“I’m Misty,” she held out her hand.

“I’m Dave,” and I took it.

Mid-visit there was a crash as the screen on her window fell out, hauling a small tan and white cat along with it. I called to Ki to stay in the room and we went over to grab the cat (she did) and I grabbed the screen. After a bit of futzing around, she got the window closed and I had the screen (mostly) back in place. After a few minutes getting her cat settled back down, she returned.

“I’m headed for Dallas to work on my Ph.D.” That led to a talk about graduate school, background, and a lot of stories about things. After an hour or two just chatting, I could tell she was tiring as she began yawning and had that look about her.

“I have to go to bed. I’m tired.”

I nodded, understanding.

“Perhaps I’ll see you in the morning. I want to see how you cook.”

I really enjoy these encounters. I enjoy interacting with people and hearing their stories. I meet interesting people along the way and am thankful for that.

Indeed, she was up and about before I cooked breakfast the next morning — a Saturday morning. She watched me prepare my eggs and oatmeal and was surprised that I had all the fixings. I was amused at her surprise. Why wouldn’t I have the things I like with me?

As I cleaned up and began my packing process, she loaded her vehicle. She knocked on my door and I asked her in. I gave her one of my cards. “Email me. I’d like to hear how your progress on your Ph.D. goes. When I’m in Dallas, I’ll drop by for a visit and we can have coffee or a beer.” She smiled, nodded, and looked at me for a moment.

I gave her a big hug, as I could see that was what she wanted.

Then she was off to Denver to see a friend, then to Dallas to get started on her work. “God Bless and be safe,” I said as I watched her go.

Once again, a living, breathing being moved into and out of my circle. She brought her energy and liveliness into my life for a few moments and then was gone. Will she email me? Will I see her again for that coffee or beer? I have no idea. I’m not even sure that it matters. It is what it is and I’m happy with that.

Then, as she drove away, my free-associating mind came up with “Play Misty for Me” and I knew I had a title for my story.