I took a trip down the “Long and Winding Road” near my hometown in East Texas this past weekend. I haven’t been down this road in a very long time. It is about 3 miles long and full of twists and curves. Not only is it scenic but is also somewhat secluded as well.
I don’t know the history of who might have given this little road the unofficial name after the famous Beatles song. I only remember that when I was a teenager, everyone who had ever been on it knew exactly what road you were referring to without ever having to give directions to meet them there. You simply had to say, “Meet me on the Long and Winding Road.” It was and still is a popular place for teenagers to hang out with their friends.
My first trip down this road was with my older sister Liz and her friend Lori and my little sister Lynn. I remember the exact day because as we were driving with the windows rolled down and the wind blowing in our hair, a special announcement came over the AM radio. The announcer simply said, “Elvis is dead.” What once seemed like such a care free summer day of finally being considered mature enough to ride around with our big sister, soon turned into a day that our whole world seemed to stand eerily still.
We continued to drive along this road and many other back roads that day in disbelief of hearing about the passing of such an iconic music legend; a life that we all knew despite our youth, to be taken way too soon.
As I drove down the same road this past Saturday, I couldn’t help but notice all the names that had been scribbled along the pavement. Most of the writing was in big bold letters and bright spray paint and went from the starting point of this beautiful drive to almost the very end of the road. It seems that these pathways have become something very different to this new generation from the time when I was growing up. We never felt the need to record our trip down this road in writing for other people to discover. Teenagers today seem to want everyone to know that they were here.
This long and winding road reminds me of simpler times; countless care- free days spent with my lifelong friends talking about our hopes and dreams of what we were wishing to accomplish one day. We wanted to be away from the watchful eyes of our parents who pretty much knew every move we made while growing up in a small town. Some of my fondest memories are of these very friendships that were only deepened by our conversations along this and so many other back roads.
On my trip home the other day, I felt so nostalgic as I was showing my children the road that I had often told them about. I was yearning for those long ago summer days of innocence. I was overcome with emotion of knowing that the first person who had taken me on my first trip down this road so many years ago was no longer with us. My sister was taken from us way too soon, just like the famous singer.
I wanted to tell every single person that had written their names along this road to slow down and enjoy their ride. Life is full of twists and turns just like this road that we all love so much. I want them to treasure every single minute and not wish to grow up so soon.
One of these days, they will look back and realize that even though their life might not end up at all like the way they had envisioned, it is still worth living and celebrating. This would only be the first of many roads that they will eventually have to decide to take to help determine their fate.
For me, I will always want to take the long and winding road. Not only am I aware of its numerous twists and turns but it holds so many precious memories of where I have been and the knowledge of where I will ultimately be going………
We miss you Liz.
We sure did enjoy the ride.