|I have been home over a week now. My furniture is back, the boxes are gone, the pictures await hanging. Sometimes Rhonda does not move for days. When I get inside, I think of all those days when our relationship was so intimate and how finding a place to park, preferably a good one was a primary concern.
Newly aware of how much stuff we accumulate, I keep mentioning this. My friends nod and smile. (We knew she would come back with some great wisdom. Is this it?) After operating with one paring knife, I now have, I don't know, maybe ten. Washing and putting away dozens of crystal glasses that belonged to my son's grandparents, I wonder what they are for—sherry, port, cognac—or something else I rarely serve any more. I must take some pleasure in them or else I would pass them on or sell them to the highest bidder on eBay. Washing all these dishes before putting them away seemed important, though I can't say why, as did alphabetizing my fiction and poetry books. Books, I understand gathering these--something about all these treasures and adventures at my fingertips.
Shopping with two friends, I want to buy candles, soft socks, and sweaters that could be melted into. Then I think how we look to products to satisfy our emotional needs.
Home barely ten days. It is so easy to slip back (or forward) into familiar places and faces.
This year has been about seeing and doing the unfamiliar, the strange, and the surprising. When this computer idles and the screen saver comes up, it randomly runs pictures from the some 27,000 mile trip just finished. Sometimes I just drop my current duties and stare, placing myself in the history of Charleston, South Carolina, climbing Guadalupe Peak with a woman from Texas, or having a sleeping crisis in Booth Bay, Maine. This difficulty I appreciate as part of the larger experience—throwing so much unseen geography, the multitudes of new roads and strange faces, so many sewer connections to be made, not to mention the flying insects that must be dodged—at me must have triggered some internal, "Yikes, what's up?" response.
Sing a chorus of "I will survive".
The questions I get. What was/were your favorite place(s)?
My favorite was all of it. Everything that is now a part of me. Not just a name on a map. Hot Springs, Arkansas where I got "the treatment" in the old bath house. Lexington, Kentucky and Henry Clay's home. Quoting Tony, "I saw you were going to Sudbury, Ontario, and I said, 'No Ma, don't go that way.'" Mitchell, South Dakota, where I missed the Corn Palace but not the bugs that circled overhead in the trees. I so wanted that night to be over. Savanah, Georgia, where I cried at the airport meeting Phil and Lena. Long finger islands--the Outer Banks of North Carolina and the Florida Keys—for stretching the eyesight and imagination. Visiting with Wade and Patty at the KOA Campground in Quebec City. The pictures roll on and on.
Over twenty years ago, writing about being alone, I described that state as being the one in which "we always finally are". It is perhaps the one we fend off in every conceivable way. When I turned a corner and began to see the characteristics of the west, I felt the tug and pull of the places I have spent my life, the people I have shared it with. Here is the context of my being, but widening the content enriches me and what I bring to the world. Alone is not synonymous with lonely. Without fear of our own interior space—the dark corners, the unanswered questions--being alone is comfortable, often rewarding.
I have only begun to process the miles covered this year. With a new desire to write, I'm looking forward to staying home (except for family and friend visits) in 2006, every bit as much as I looked toward going in 2005. Everywhere, there is so much to learn and do. Go for it!