Harper Rutherford II and I never road a moped into the mountains, or over a hill or ever road anything but his car to a movie. No Harper was a dud to say the least. Sometimes I wonder why I even have thoughts of him. The books say it could result from some sort of comfort zone feeling from the past. But Harper was never comfortable. Or was he?
Holding onto Billy while riding through the mountain roads was something I shall treasure for all my lifetime. Hugging his waist with my head resting on his strong shoulder was better than the best ice cream, or the prettiest dress ever. It was like two hearts beating in unison which they did once again early that afternoon on a plaid Pendleton blanket overlooking Lake Travis. That beautiful blue sky that led us to our destination seemed like it was there just for us. The same clouds that we followed up the winding roads stood still as though they were watching over us for a time. After a while a gentle breeze took them onto their next set of lovers somewhere.
With a woman it is a total invasive act of becoming one. Hearts beating in unison. Nothing dangling anywhere out there far from her heart. And so it was. He dangled and I took him in with deep breaths of love from the blue sky above. Wanting sounds of love that I am sure summoned the critters of the hills to watch and feel the massive vibrations of good energy being sent into the Universe. And then it was over. Not to say "it" hadn't left me with a sensation of fullness of love. Billy Connally was in love with me. Every breath and movement told me of his love. His heart and his dangly had come together meeting my every expectation. I actually thought of Harper momentarily. Harper couldn't hold a candle to this man on any day of the week. I was diggin' this and had thoughts of a lifetime with more.
We packed up the picnic basket and headed down the hills toward Austin when I noticed Billy took a turn off the road. I shouted, "Where are we going?"
"To Church," he said.
"What?" I shouted. I have no clothes for church.
"I came prepared," he commented as we pulled off the road to a roadside café and gas stop.
The moped had a medium sized satchel beneath the driver and passenger seats. He lifted the seat and out came the prettiest pale pink chiffon sheath dress I had ever seen. And a pair of matching heels in my size. Of course. I was giggling like a school girl before the Friday night dance. He was watching me dance around in circles holding my dress to my waist and neckline.
"Wait, what are you going to wear Billy? I said.
He reached in and pulled out a rolled up jacket and slacks. One belt and one tie.
We both laughed like kids. Then inside to the bathrooms to change. We went in looking tousled and come out quite the opposite. In fact, danged if didn't look royal.
That is when I asked where the Church was.... He said, "You'll see."
We pulled up to a little country church out in the hills. Not much of a building I thought. That is when I heard the voices loud and clear. As well as a whole lot of pretty cars parked along side our little moped.
Billy put his arm around my waist, looked down at me and said, "Get ready baby! Here we go!"
Suddenly I see about a hundred and fifty Negro people singing and dancing in the pews. I mean whoa.....what's going on H E L L O! And they were all so pretty! Let me say there were hats and white patent leather shoes and suits of every color like you don't see everyday anywhere. The children looked like models. That is when I turned my head a tad and saw the body! Its a funeral! My eyes got as big as humanly possible although I was in no way being disrespectful. I could not even get turned around to leave there were so many dancing people. Truly all I wanted to do was laugh. Not at the death, but at the shock of it all. How could Billy have thought being funeral crashers was alright? As well as he had not even warned me. That is when his buddy Shakila walked over and thanked him for coming. I learned Shakila was a lifelong friend. Billy introduced me as his fiance. After the congratulations and hugs I about had a cow at the funeral in the Negro church out in the hills. Why did he do that? After I got over the initial shock of his not so formal proposal I decided to laugh it off . That was just another example of a Southern "Gentleman" taking over what he thinks is his rightful place on top of me. Get it?
Regardless of Billy, I gotta say I received quite the show because those folks know how to do it up right. They dress better then us white folks. They sing better, they dance better, they show their emotions better. All the while we white folk are trying to darken their skin and keep the Negros in their separate churches, schools, and eating places. We should at the least show such emotion at our funerals. Or maybe not. My mind likes to take off chattering to itself much of the time.
After another hour of celebrating Shakila's Father's life it was time to leave and join the funeral procession. As we walked out of the church, I realized how ridiculous we were going to look riding a moped in the funeral procession. Or maybe we weren't going to be in the procession. Wrong again Julianna.
We actually rode in the limo with Shakila, his Mother, Genevieve, and a driver. Out of respect I kept my thoughts quiet and inside my head. Like the one that kept saying, "How do I get myself into these limo situations?" And the other thought, "Shakila, I would like you to meet my fiance, Julianna Rowe?" Wait until I tell Billy I'm keeping my own last name if I even agree at all. I started to giggle out loud, of course not realizing it until I felt a definite jab in my side from Billy's elbow. Cant say I didn't deserve that one.
When we finally got the procession going and neared the main road......there he was. Big Daddy, A fancy dressed Negro man directing the traffic on a main highway thoroughfare, as well as maintaining the line up of the 150 cars with little white flags. Who do you know that would have the nards (and they are probably restin' in gold plated undies) to take that on. The procession meant to stay together and if it took him getting out of his fancy Lincoln and directing all traffic, who obeyed his commands might I add....so that family could drive to the cemetery as one. What one of us white folks would have done that? Bout none that I know. Another tidbit is, in the South it was proper to pull your car over to the side of the road to show respect for the deceased and the family in any funeral procession.
I will say this. If you ever want to see a real Jesus Sunday, visit one of the Negro's fine church services. Having done this was uplifting for sure. Well except when they throw themselves (a select few) off the pews and wiggle around in the spirit. Absolutely no offense intended because I believe everyone has their own Jesus and responds to him each to their own.
After the shaking and crying and falling down at the church and the cemetery we were given a ride back to our Moped which we returned to the rental place at dusk and picked up Billy's car. Another different car.
I was very quiet to the point of it being noticeable. Naturally Billy asked me if everything was alright. I affirmed and was then silent again. All in one day Billy had taken me on a moped into the mountains after I said I wanted to be alone for awhile, made love to me, surprised me with a change of clothing and no warning by taking me to a Negro Church funeral, procession, and cemetery rights, introduced me as his fiancé although never asking me to be such, and then wondered why I was so quiet. I finally responded by saying I was just tired, thank you. That is what was expected of me and I knew it. And at that moment I also realized I wasn't sure I could play the game.
When we arrived at Granddaddy's Billy put the car in park and started to get out. I put my hand on his arm and said, "No. It's been a long day and I thank you but I need some quiet time with Duke. He has been alone all day. Good night Billy." And I got out and ran to the house. I never even thought of kissing him.
I had gotten myself into another box. And those box lids felt like they were wood pieces folded down and nailed shut.
I should have been so happy.