An Encounter with the Numinous
It was December 1978 and bitterly cold. It was one of the worst blizzards southeastern Oklahoma had experienced, and I had the misfortune to get caught in it after a long, hard journey from Florida, where a friend and I had gone searching for work in an old milk van that was converted into a camper.
After a few weeks of slim pickings and little — if any — work, my friend and I began to feud. It became obvious that one of us had to leave or we might end up destroying what was left of a great friendship, and since it was technically his van, it was clear it would be me. We parked near a beach, and I decided to pack what little clothes I had and head off hitchhiking to Oklahoma. I optimistically figured it wouldn't be any trouble at all for one person to get a few rides and in no time arrive there, even if I had no more than a five-dollar bill in my wallet. I was accustomed to going the distance lean — after all, we had struggled for a month to make it on little money or food.
In the darkness of the van, I got up, tossed the backpack on my back and said, "Goodbye, old buddy. I'm sorry, but one of us has to go, and it might as well be me." I closed the door and walked out into the warm night air, feeling slightly saddened but very positive. How could anything go wrong? But that was in sunny Orlando, Florida, where the nights were balmy and the days beautiful. I had not a hint of what lay ahead for me.