Goodbye From Venus

Traveler’s Tips #328
 If you happen to wander onto the pages of my imagination don’t worry, it’s a mostly friendly place. Be sure to stop by the Venus Motel, you never know who might drop in.
I’ve written more songs than I can remember. Sometimes I’m asked which is my favorite. Writers say that’s like trying to pick their favorite child. Man, apply that to me and I’d be a miserable dad. I’d have some kids I liked, some I’m indifferent about, and a few I’d make sleep out in the garage.
But…there is this one song… I keep it around like loose change and guitar picks. I’m partial to it. Years ago I recorded it with good friends—we laughed a lot. And nights out playing it are great memories for me. Thinking back, nobody ever told me it was a very good song, at least not in the popular sense. No verse, chorus, or bridge. And I’m not convinced the words are structurally sound. Just a meandering piece of musical poetry that somehow fought its way out to the satellites and back.
I don’t play it much, unless it’s alone in a dark room. It sounds good to me there.

Goodbye From Venus
Past the edge of town,
Out where the world ends
Where the desert gives the sky
Nothing but silence
There’s an old motel
The sign is a shimmering Venus
And even though she smiles
Her eyes are sad
A husband and his wife
Laugh in the darkness
He fumbles with the key
She wraps her hair around her fingers
They walk into the room
By the light of the sidewalk
Throw the key inside the drawer
Next to Gideon’s Bible
And she says, Hey, let’s walk down by the swimming pool
Maybe we could have a beer while the room cools down
You know I really love to be with you
And there’s a million stars tonight…

A few chords and words—it’s a love song, I guess. Maybe not in the typical sense but more in the way that says, we’ve seen some things together and I can’t wait for more.
 Flickering blue light from the pool, the shadow of far-off mountains in the moonlight—and the one person in the world you know, without a doubt, is a gift from Heaven. This is the sweet thing. The thing I love. The thing that lasts.
As the years passed I missed the Venus Motel so I wandered back there in my writing. I closed my eyes and watched the sunset from the pool deck. Listened to Spanish guitar float from the lounge. The place wound up playing a big part in my novel and when we knocked around cover ideas I was thrilled that the Venus finally found her way to the front of the class.
I think of her out there, buzzing and flickering next to the great American highway while the sky tosses planets around. To me she’s always represented the broken in us. But also the watchful and the hopeful, with an eye to the horizon. She’s seen the wars, but chooses to remember the good. I’m glad she made the cover. Resurrected out of the back streets of my brain and cruising Main again. She reminds me of soft words and confidences, of holding my wife’s hand and hearing her laugh.
Even as the sun falls, we know it’s going to circle back. We’ll be hanging at the Venus for now but soon and very soon we’ll be able to say the night is far spent and the day is at hand. Eternity stretches out before us, a bright and shining thing, farther and more wonderful than imagination or pen can tell. I can live with that.     
So if you see her out there—the Venus—waving at you from the edge of the road or from the cover of a book, pull over. Check in. Relax a while. But make sure you schedule a wake-up call for just before dawn. Meet us on the deck. After all, we’re in this thing together. And the sunrise promises to be spectacular.
Fair winds,

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