When I was a child, my parents thought watching barges was great entertainment. They'd load us into the car and drive down to the foot of Broadway in Paducah, and then we'd sit. Sit. Sit. Waiting for a barge to come by, and as I remember it, sometimes there never was a barge at all. Just hours of waiting.
Do you have any idea how boring, tedious, torturous that was for a child? Well, for me, at any rate. I don't remember my always-quiet-and-content brother ever complaining about it.
And now that I'm much older than my parents were then, I am fascinated by barges. No, that's not quite right. It's the towboats that attract me. For the past few years I've been snapping pics of them. I don't think it has anything at all to do with nostalgia. I believe it's the humanity.
It's like meeting someone really interesting in some random place -- a conference or a coffee shop-- and then never seeing or hearing from that person again. Here's the Lexington, for example. Maybe it passes by every day. I don't know. But the odds that I'll be there to see it pass again are relatively slim. There's absolutely no commitment here.
When I do catch the same boat again -- usually a year or years later-- I am excited about it. It feels like a tiny bit of magic. No, sorry, I can't explain that.
Here's what I can tell you, though: the crew of the Lexington made a moment of my day a little brighter, and I sent a friendly wave and a smile to them. Positive energy exchanged. Connection made. And the river rolls on.