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Ryan Dennis

Ryan Dennis is the son of a New York dairy farmer and a literary writer whose early essays were originally published in Progressive Dairyman.

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It wasn’t long after we left Wells and set out into the lifeless gravel that I realized I underestimated the amount of water I should have carried. Even before I ran out, I became faint. Not wanting to validate the danger of the situation, I let Paul go ahead of me while I dug out a few energy bars.

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We froze when we heard the screaming. My girlfriend’s father had gone ahead to bring the car around while she, her mother and I waited by the door of the restaurant. He shrieked as if in the greatest pain of his life. The women ran toward him.

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“Man, I just need 11 dollars. I lost my bus ticket and I need to get home to see my family. Must have fell out of my pocket, you know? I just need 11 dollars, man.”

He shifted on his feet as he pleaded. He made a show of impatiently looking back toward the ticket counter.

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“Tennessee Williams lived in this house,” the landlord said. She was a quiet woman in her 60s who had tried to shut the door on me, having explained that she wasn’t showing the room today. I handed her the check and said I was desperate and would take it sight-unseen.

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I can’t say no. Because of it I’ve ended up on top of a crane, on a tour bus with strangers and semi-kidnapped by a punk gang. It has led to some good stories. Many I use as party tricks. Someday, though, I suspect it might be the end of me.

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Before, I had thought mid-life crises had to look like this: You get a Mustang or a younger partner, maybe change your job or get a new haircut or hike through a remote mountain chain. Maybe you take up tango or change your name to Bastet, the Egyptian goddess of love and beauty, and then force everyone to call you that. My mother, however, did none of that in her middle years.

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