Chapter Two - Along for the Ride

. . . On the other side of Manhattan from Magda, a man unknown to her prior to this day of flight had started his own day slowly, unaware that Magda was headed his way across Central Park.

. . . Metaphorically speaking, Vance was a hitchhiker in the way he lived most of his life.
. . . He had no thumb outstretched.
. . . He would not stand roadside.
. . . If you asked him, he would deny he was hitchhiking.
. . . He would insist that he had never thumbed a ride in his whole life - not even when wandering across Europe after college.
. . . Vance found rides, certainly, but not in the conventional manner.
. . . In his late teens he’d start in a cafe or square, perhaps. He would strike up a conversation . . . offer a cigarette . . . share a coffee and some small talk . . . some philosophy or commentary. And he would end up with a room for the night, a new friend and a widening circle of others, some of whom were planning drives to villages on his list.
. . . Some new acquaintances inspired him to alter his list . . . to veer from his path. He learned early on that he could almost always improve his list by tagging along.
. . . No one ever accused him back then of being an original.
. . . Not much had changed since then. In his mid forties now - successful beyond any reasonable expectation - he was still hitchhiking in various ways.
. . . He began his career feeling unnoticed. While some of his classmates rose quickly to pinnacles of success, his own trajectory was far less dramatic.
. . . He would read their stories in the alumni magazine and shake his head wondering how anyone could claim so much notoriety at an early age, let alone write about it for the whole class to read and weep.
. . . Part of him chalked up their early successes to family position, class bias and elitism. A smaller part had to admit they possessed raw talents above his own.
. . . He was unprepared for success when it finally tapped his shoulder. After climbing corporate ladders in ways that bought him a BMW and a comfortable house in the suburbs, he found himself feeling stalled, unnoticed and insignificant in his mid thirties.
. . . He was a perfectly competent middle manager with nothing to brag about, riding the train into the city each morning to punch at corporate windmills without much passion or purpose.
. . . There was nothing quixotic about his career - nothing admirable - nothing worth remembering.

. . . “We are poor little lambs who have lost their way.”