By Sean Dietrich
It’s early. I am on the road this morning. I stopped for breakfast at McDonald’s. I know
the food’s not good for me, but Egg McMuffins and I have a long history. There’s a man here with his daughter. They’re in the booth behind me. He talks to her with so much sugar in his voice it’s hard not to smile. He asks if she had a fun weekend. She tells him she doesn’t want to leave him and go live with her mother. He tells her she must go. She cries. He holds her. “Don’t cry,” he says. “We still have weekends together.”
In a nearby booth is a group of Mexican boys. Their voices are happy. Their clothes are filthy. A jokester in the group attempts a stunt for entertainment value. He leans backward and balances a full cup of coffee on his chin. This is a bad idea. A few tables over: a woman. She has a service dog. She doesn’t appear to be blind, but then what do I know? The dog sits while she eats. A man comes out of the restroom and pets the dog, but the dog doesn’t even acknowledge him. The animal is all business. “Pretty dog,” the man says. The woman answers, “He’s my everything.” A few kids burst through the doors and stand in line. They are breathless, like they’ve just covered fifty miles on their bikes.
I wish more kids rode to town on bikes. The man behind me is still talking to his little girl. “Your mother’s here,” he says. A tall woman walks through the doors. She makes a beeline for the man and daughter. There is no small talk. She’s cool and collected. They head for the parking lot. The man pops the hatch of an SUV and unloads pink backpacks, roller skates, a scooter, and flower-print luggage. The tall woman shoves things into a minivan. He gives the girl a hug, kisses her forehead. He watches the minivan roll away. He hangs his head. Well. There is a lot I don’t know about this world. I don’t know why society gets colder. I don’t know why families break up, why good people get cancer, or why the self-centered get promoted. I don’t know why news anchors use excited voices to talk about bad things. I don’t know why mass shootings earn more camera-time than people who change tires for strangers. But I’m no fool. There are a few things I do know. Real things. I know, for instance, that dogs are loyal. And holy. I know Mexican boys stick together and try to make each other laugh. I know kids still ride bikes. I know people still make music on porches, and that mornings are still the best time of day. I know some fathers fight tooth and nail for weekends with their little girl. I know this Egg McMuffin isn’t half bad. Neither is love. I know that I love you. I know that I am your brother. And I know that no matter who you are, where you’re from, or what kind of hell you’re going through… That means we’re kin.