Like a dog, at my feet, beneath the table, my mind begs, shamelessly, after each & every meal, even breakfast:
After a display of disgust, I pat it on the head, and say:
“Let’s go see what we have.”
To say nothing seems wrong. To say something, just to say something, seems trite.
What I felt as I drove through a snowstorm in the Blue Ridge Mountains was shock.
“Mary Oliver has died,” said the announcer on NPR, without asking if we were all sitting down.
And just like that a window shut, a door slammed, a page turned, a poem…
Her words came at a time when I was finding myself, and like she did for so many, her way of seeing lit the way, and made it softer and sweeter and whole.
“Friday is the Day of Detachment. Today we tell our children: Enjoy the journey.”
Another dreary day of winter weather, blocking my view & my mood. But after two full days of driving, I am waking up in a place I’ve never been before, to the sound of a bird I don’t know, in a stranger’s bed in Knoxville, Tennessee where my youngest and I have journeyed to celebrate the most powerful thing in the world.
The Smokies were covered today and we extended our stay to avoid the weather up ahead.
As the sun set in the west and the full moon rose in the east, we drove through the Tennessee town in which Dolly Parton was born, on this very weekend, 73 years ago.
What struck me most about this time in the “South,” almost immediately, was the pause people take, even when passing by, even when brushing shoulders with strangers, to say something kind or to smile, which we’re happy to reciprocate only we didn’t know and so we kept on going or kept it short or turned away too soon, respecting individuation & time instead of the gentility of connection. (I wonder if the North is more heavily populated by introverts.)
“Southern women are nice to your face and then talk behind your back,” our Airbnb host said.
The anomalies & attributes of another person or place are easier to see than one’s own, and so here’s what else we noticed:
Cheap gas! We filled up for $1.89 today (almost makes us want to stay and drive around some more.)
70 mph speed limit. With signs that tell you to stay in the right lane if you’re going less than 70.
BILLBOARDS. (Thank you for banning those Vermont!)
GOD: in the bathroom, on the coffee table and everywhere else along with GUNS & SEX (aka. “Adult” establishments), the bedfellows of PATRIARCHY & OPPRESSION, partnered with fireworks, bbq, knives, moonshine, distilleries & and a string of extravagant Christmas-lawn ornament light stores.
Other EXCESSES: Pedicures & sundaes–at the same time. (I was tempted.) A hunk of cornbread & 2 huge biscuits with your small order of chicken & dumplings. “You won’t starve here,” the waiter said. Price: $5.95
Loads of Arby’s & Hardy’s & Chick Fill A (as well as Waffle Houses & Krispy Kremes.)
Angular mountain ranges & ridges.
Today my husband, a highschool social studies teacher, spent his half-day in-service learning how to stop the bleeding. Legs & arms mainly because apparently there’s less success with torso wounds in the classroom.