Sunday Morning ~ On The Road Again
Bwenzi ndi mtanthira, mlamba udaolotsa khoswe. ~ Friendship is a bridge; the fish helped the mouse to cross.
~ Chewa proverb
June 20, 2021
It feels strange to sleep in a strange bed. After the year and a half of staying put, roaming from room to room in my own house, waking next to the same lamp and pile of books on my bedside table, performing the rote morning routine, my sense of adventure has been muted. I’ve had the most consistent year of my life: same house, same bed, same cat asking for her breakfast. I haven’t been bored, which honestly, surprised me. I slid in to the routine and created a full day, working on long neglected projects like they were exciting new friends. I found I settled into solitude more easily than I imagined. Opening up again is taking some consideration.
We planned this road trip months ago when Kathy said she was auditioning for the play. From our little zoom corners we said we should do a road trip to see her on stage. Yes! That would be fun! Our first trip in a long time! That was before we knew the vaccinations would be so efficiently distributed. We smugly thought we’d have our own little vaccinated bubble. I’d even planned to make matching masks. And here we are, six months later, trying to remember how to carry on a fully dressed conversation with eye contact.
I was anxious leaving my nest! That was a new feeling for me. Usually I can’t wait to get onto the road, never fearing the place would collapse without me. But with the every day attention, minute by minute observations of details to attend to, I started thinking it couldn’t survive a day without my fussing. I have created a monster, for sure. Those peonies don’t stake themselves, and what if the clematis blooms when I am away? Who will tell those blossoms they love them? The cat might get depressed. I was feeling rather self-important. Not enough to make me miss a trip with friends, but I can’t deny the anxiety was there. But soon the grand kids will be on my lap and that’s a strong pull.
The first stop is a visit with an old friend where I spent last night. We met when I was just shy of my fourth birthday when I moved into the house on Pomiciticut Ave, a shady dead end road with a yard and a best friend across the street. Her daughter got married yesterday in Oregon and I am in New Hampshire with Barbara, her mom, who was unable to make the long trip out there. We watched the wedding via zoom then had our own little dinner celebration. I’m so grateful for this blessing of long-time friends. This trip will be full of them. We reminisced about growing up in Maynard, We talked about the history of the town and how the mill shaped it’s prosperity and decline. Barbara said she remembered skating on the mill pond as a kid and wondering each time what color the ice would be. I wondered aloud how much that had to do with the high rates of cancer in town. Tuesday I’ll go back for a visit there and enter the mill building for the first time in my life. I walked by there every day growing up, a mysterious chain of enormous brick structures, the iconic clock tower rising from the center. I never appreciated the architecture or the enormity, nor how it shaped so many careers of my friends.
Barbara and I talked about the celebration of Juneteenth and how little racial diversity we had in our town of immigrants: Italian, Polish, and Finnish were the ones I could recall. I knew of only two Jewish families, but Barbara said there were four. There were no black families and only one small group of Puerto Ricans. We had two Finnish steam baths in town! We had two Catholic churches, one just for the Polish, and in a town covering only one square mile, this amazes me now. We had three dress shops, two men’s clothing stores, a Woolworths, three grocery stores, and a drug store with a real soda fountain in our little downtown area. We were known for being the town with the most bars per capita.
I’m looking forward to our long car trip to Tennessee. Kathy, (voted most dramatic for senior superlatives) is still at it and I can’t wait to see her on stage. We’ll probably not stop talking for the whole fifteen hours. It’ll be an extended version of our teenage trips to Hampton Beach, but safer since we’ll only have the legal limit of passengers. We’ll have our postponed reunion of the solid bonds created in this town.
It feels like so many good things are happening now. While still miles to go, our new holiday of Juneteenth makes me joyful. I keep thinking we are not going back to not knowing. I want to follow where this new road leads and discover truths unburied along the way. Learning is not scary anymore. The guilt and shame is giving way to a more powerful feeling of recognizing how much better we can be. We’re talking about it.
Love to all,