BEGIN WHERE YOU ARE. As the skies cleared, I headed back out to the rain-soaked ramp. It wasn’t long before an RV nosed into the shoulder. I hopped in next to Scott, an ultra-marathon runner who is currently attempting to break the world record for the most number of hundred miles races completed in one year. He took me all the way down to Cheyenne, from where I caught a strange but wonderful ride down to Ft. Collins on the back of a bouncing flatbed truck. I wound up in the center of town, but I quickly learned that I’d just missed the last bus down to Boulder. I wandered the street, uncertain of what to do now, until I met a friendly girl who offered to drop me off back at I-25 so I could hitch the rest of the way down. At the Harmony Road on ramp, the first car I tossed my thumb at pulled over. I threw my pack in the trunk and hopped in with three 18-year-old kids who seemed thrilled to offer me the ride. They offered me a cigarette and asked me about my journey. Dan and Trish were from Ft. Collins (Erik was visiting from California), and they’d hitched around Colorado quite a bit, so they always try to pick people up when they can. In fact, they asked where exactly I was headed and wanted to take me out of their way to drop me off. I was still waiting to hear back from people, so I wasn’t sure whether I was heading to Boulder or Longmont. So when the kids asked me if I wouldn’t mind driving down to Denver first so they could pick up, I shrugged and agreed. When we arrived in Denver, they pulled over at a Taco place that seemed to be in a somewhat bad area and insisted on buying me food. Dan was on the phone coordinating the meeting, and he seemed a bit agitated. Trish opened the glove box and pulled out an envelope. She counted the $450 into her lap. I had apparently been wrong to assume that “pick up” meant a little bit of pot from a friend. Dan hung up the phone. They sat in tense silence for a few minutes, and then an unmarked Crown Victoria with tinted windows and no license plates drove by with a tap of the horn. We pulled into the street behind the car and followed it several blocks until it turned into a parking lot. Dan pulled up next to the car, left ours idling, and climbed into the passenger seat. A few moments later he hopped back in, reversed out of the lot, and began to drive. We stopped at a Wendy’s a moment later. Dan and Trish went inside to use the bathroom. They came out a few minutes later, Dan suddenly irritable, Trish apologizing for the delay, and we got on the road up to Longmont. Dan cranked the music, and as Trish turned to offer me another cigarette, I noticed the bright red punctures scattered along the inside of her elbow.
It’s remarkable how quickly events can spiral out of our control. Should I have just had them drop me off near Longmont on I-25? Should I have gotten out when we pulled into the bad neighborhood? When I realized what kind of drugs were involved? It all happened so fast. And that’s how I found myself in the back seat of a car flying down the highway at a hundred miles an hour driven by an 18-year-old kid with heroin surging through his veins. I put my elbow against the window. BEGIN WHERE YOU ARE, I saw written on my wrist. So I did the only thing I could think to do: meditate.
We made it to Longmont safely. The ride was harrowing but uneventful. When the car finally came to a stop on Main Street, I got out quickly and removed my pack from the trunk. The three of them climbed out to wish me farewell. I thanked them for the ride and the food. They began to thank me and I stopped them. I told them that I knew I didn’t know them, but I could tell they were good people. “So are you, man–” Dan started to say, but I cut him off. Listen. I can tell you are good people. The way you’re willing to help out someone you don’t know. The things you guys were talking about on the drive. You’re good people. But what you are doing right now? Nothing good is going to come of it. The three of them hesitated awkwardly. I went on. It’s not me telling you what to do. It’s not a judgment. It’s just a fact. Nothing good is going to come of it. Dan nodded slowly. Then we talked about other things for a few more minutes. “What’s your car’s name?” I asked suddenly. He shrugged. “Doesn’t have one yet. But I do need to name it….” “Yeah, you should.” Trish suggested that we come up with a name right then. We were all silent for a moment, and then it came to me. “The road that you guys picked me up on.” They looked at me blankly. And then Trish got it. “Harmony.”