It’s not how well the bear dances, but that the bear dances at all — Russian proverb.
My flights are booked, a pretty pleasant experience, partly because I’m taking 3 one-way trips, partly because they’re all nonstop (yay), and partly because prices are low. So I’m definitely going.
I leave, in fact, exactly one month from today, which is also Father’s Day and the summer solstice, both good signs. The longest day of the year begins my longest journey in…
I mean. It overwhelms even me, the dumb symbolism I could find lurking in the corners of this calendar. Let’s just say I’m looking forward to a trip and stop with the stupid.
After two days in Boston, while Beth settles her affairs and (according to her) gives Dad marathon piano lessons (I’ve been playing again after decades of leaving the music to the ladies, and she senses a student), we’re anticipating some long days, regardless of the position of the sun and the earth (but that will help). Friends are going to be left at the wayside, old friends who will be close but no time, no time. Shoot.
What we’re doing, in fact, is trying to drive from Boston to Oklahoma City in 2 days. That’s 1700 miles, and so solstice helps. It’s not out of the question, impossible or even daunting. I drove the nearly 1100 miles from Dallas to Phoenix one time damn near by myself (Julie had a horrible earache at the time), so I know it’s a matter of music and mental alertness, maybe caffeine.
So, although nothing is set in stone, I’m thinking we’ll skip the South and go north, heading through Massachusetts into upstate New York, gliding past Buffalo and Rochester, diving through Cleveland (find me more verbs) and then who knows? Columbus? Indiana? The mysterious Effingham? Our day awaits.
And then to Oklahoma City, where a former college professor has graciously offered us beds and anything else we need. From there it’s a relatively short trip to Santa Fe, hopefully by Friday afternoon.
On Monday I’ll fly to Phoenix for a week, to visit with Mom and see old friends in the area, then back to Seattle on July 6.
So I’ll be gone from home two weeks. I sat here this morning, thinking that I couldn’t remember being away for that long in…since I used to play the piano a lot, maybe. The above Texas trip was maybe the last time, but even then we were newly married and in between homes. Dunno; maybe I’d have to go back to being a kid to find two whole weeks without sleeping in my own bed. Sounds sort of sad, but I’ve never had a vacation-based life anyway and I’m fine. Just funny to think about, a little, wondering about my lawn growing, what John will be up to, if the trash gets out, what the kitchen and bathroom will look like that sort of thing.
And then, of course, I remembered, that three years ago I was gone for 21 days.
I’ve been working on this…this thing…for a long time. Manuscript. Project. Book. I’ve got thousands of words, scattered on my hard drive and on the Web cloud and on an external drive, saved, waiting. It lacks coherence, I’ve said. There’s no theme, no meaning, no point. And I think, these days, maybe it just needs a nice ending.
I keep changing titles in my mind, hoping for inspiration. And when I first mapped out our middle ground, little Effingham, Illinois, population 12,000, and I thought, it’s in the middle of nowhere and then I thought, “In The Middle of Everywhere,” that sounded really good until I realized it also sounded like a fake book title from a bad movie.
That’s the issue, though. There is no ending because that’s not the model I’ve been following. In going from A to B, I’m not particularly interested in B. I’m interested in going.
But as a bookend? Maybe this works.
I’m looking forward to the road, and the time with my daughter. I’m excited about seeing the Beauchamps, the family I haven’t met. I’m pretty eager to visit with as many old friends as I can, if for nothing else than to get the taste of a winter of funerals out of my mouth.
And if I look back, over my shoulder, and see three years ago, see a man siting on his front porch, incapable of properly packing his suitcase, waiting for a ride to rehab, and then note the current guy, preparing to drive 2200 miles cross-country with his daughter six weeks before her wedding, thinner, fitter, happier, with new glasses and a decent haircut, and I see some symmetry or at least a story, well. I am in the middle of everywhere, in the moment, and moving, which you can only do if you’re alive.
And because I stopped counting a long time ago, and because I was writing this and curious, and because suddenly I had a sense, I went to the online sobriety calculator a second ago and saw.
This is how I do things now. This is the walking, and the push-ups, and the notes and the to-do lists and the new skills and the thousands of words and everything else. I need to keep moving, and so far I have. So far so good.
I haven’t had a drink in 1000 days. Today. Funny.
See, I don’t think it’s about how well the bear dances.
I don’t, as it turns out, think it’s about the bear at all.
I think it’s about the dancing.