With one hand on the black leather covered steering wheel, I jumped from station to station, searching for one that wasn’t dissecting the O.J. Simpson trial.
Most FM stations were little more than white noise as I traversed through the canyons leading out of Ogden and into Evanston. Eventually I’d give up and pop in my Counting Crows cassette.
Other than a few stretches of rock and river, much of the surroundings are barren land that once served as farm land. Dilapidated farms dot the landscape like road markers.
My first job out of college resulted in moving to Rock Springs for four months. I was married, but I’d be living on my own while my spouse finished up schooling in Salt Lake City.
A few friends and family advised me to refuse the transfer or find another job assuming it would take a toll on my marriage. What they didn’t know was my marriage was already teetering on the brink of failure.
Maybe that’s why I felt good about my decision to leave my friends, family and spouse to live on my own for a while. I knew it would be the final nail in the marriage coffin.
I learned more about myself during those four months than the previous four years in college. I dove into my job like I’d never done before. I spent my evenings reading about computers and the internet. I made new friends who didn’t see the baggage I’d been carrying around for years.
It was a fresh start. Slowly I was beginning to feel alive again.
One night a few of my coworkers invited me to go to a club with them. When we arrived, I realized that a club in Rock Springs is a neighborhood dive bar anywhere else. I don’t know if I’d ever stepped foot in a bar until that night.
At least I was around friends for a couple of hours. One ordered a burger for me that arrived with a bowl of brown gravy. It’s worth a trip to Rock Springs if only for this burger. And, honestly, only for this burger.
Country music blared over the speakers. I felt far outside my comfort zone and was about to excuse myself for the evening when a coworker grabbed my arm and dragged me to the dance floor. Others filed in around us until the floor was packed.
I tried not to smile, but I was having fun for the first time in a long time. My partner leaned towards me and whispered, “You’re gonna be OK.”
Seventeen years later those words still stand as some of the kindest ever directed towards me.