As I calculate 10 miles a day, I pin shiny little yellow tacks onto my mental roadmap from Palm Bay, Florida, to Orlando via SR 192. It’s a four-lane highway that takes a daily beating as cars, trucks, vans and semi’s hurtle their way towards St. Cloud and Kissimmee to the West and Melbourne to the East. However, the first 40 miles of SR 192, West of I-95, are very barren. Cows, pasture and palm trees are all the excitement to be had, unless you count the vehicles flying past.
As part of our deal on this trial run to Orlando, as he irons out kinks in his trip, Christian has promised to call us or send smoke signal by Friday so we might track him down on Saturday (Day 6.) So day by day I pin yellow tacks inside my head - sometimes there's a LOT OF TACKS. Where does he pitch his tent? Do trucks throw up stones and rocks as they hurtle by him? Is his water tank leaking?
DAY 1 – The DragonWagon rolled away at 2pm on a fantastic sunny afternoon, headed north on Minton Road towards Melbourne, FL. I happened to have an event that very afternoon, at school – which is located (coincidentally) on Minton Road in Melbourne. I’m not sure how it turned out this way, but Christian would still be walking up that street when I was due to be at school.
What to do? What would you do? Would you take another road? Would you drive past him and way, casual-like? Ignore him? All these questions knocked around inside my head, until I made my decision. I would take my normal way to school. Up Minton Road.
There he was, calm as ever, walking along at his casual-stride, the DragonWagon faithfully following behind. Yeah, I got a lump in my throat and then I punched myself mentally. Seriously? He’d only been gone an hour … For goodness sake! I slowed down, pulled out the phone to take a snapshot. No, no, I’ll shoot a little movie. Wanted to see him moving along, doing his thing and then I saw him … holding something. What? A paper wrapper. Eating the milanesas already? My car slowed to a crawl and that’s when I saw the tell-tale McD wrapper.
My heart plummeted. Already? He'd stopped to get McD’s less than an hour into the trip? What kind of a trip was this? Questions started piling one on top of the other inside my head before I’d even stopped the car completely.
“Hi!” he grinned through a mouthful, “whatcha doing here?”
“Hi, on my way to school. I was going to suggest that you stop off and for hot dogs, but I see you’re …” I point to the offensive wrapper.
“OMG, you have no idea what happened, Mum.”
In the next twenty seconds, I was put to shame. What was even worse is that the voice that comes out of my mouth is so fake … I was blown away by Christian’s story, and Sheridan’s actions that’s for sure, but in the same breath I hate myself for thinking all those earlier thoughts.
Oh, Christian, I’m sorry. What a rotten mother.
When I got to school, I retold the story - adding one or two of my ugly thoughts in a feeble attempt to make amends ... or did I do it to make it more colorful?
One of the teachers clapped her hand over her mouth and gasped,
"I saw it happen! I was driving along and I saw this man get out of a car and give something to the walker with the wagon."
What a small world. We were all in shock and more so later on when two other people witnessed the event. I'm sure we're going to find out one day who Sheridan was and we're going to be able to thank him personally for being the first kindness on Christian's road on Sunday, October 26th, 2014.
The event is 20,000 people strong every single one of them is dressed up for a pre-Halloween party and the line is wrapped around the block so Christian doesn’t even get a second glance, although many of my co-workers clapped loudly as he walked toward our table and they cheered as he set off again. We hugged one last time and I filmed him as he melted into the crowd.
As I turned, I got some grit in my eyes.