New Year Outtakes

New Year Outtakes

Welcome Center, Tennessee

EPIPHANY

Like a dog, at my feet, beneath the table, my mind begs, shamelessly, after each & every meal, even breakfast:

“No dessert?”

After a display of disgust, I pat it on the head, and say:

“Let’s go see what we have.”

~

MID-JANUARY

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.

~

MLK WEEKEND

“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.

Love.

~

VERMONT BOUND

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.

“Yes, ma’am.”

~

IN-SERVICE

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.

 

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Sunday Driver

Sunday Driver

Detour.

The older I get, the more I enjoy road trips, and the longer they take, which is my own doing–meandering back roads, seeking shade, instead of speed, and not only because I prefer the old car with the manual transition–which lost its air condition earlier this month (but I don’t mind the mountain air on my face)–but also because I prefer the solitude of back roads–the absence of movement, except for mine, the chance to slow or stop, when my attention alights—on an old barn, a field of wildflowers, a stand of trees; and this afternoon on my serpentine ride home from Kripalu Center for Yoga & Health–two young boys, about 9 years old, on the outskirts of a small town, dressed in matching soccer uniforms.

As I approached, the one with the ball under his arm, looked up from beneath a mass of dark curls and stuck out his thumb.

I smiled and slowed and waived, remembering the pleasure of wondering where my thumb might take me one day, and how soon someone might take me, seriously, and something else–the delight of coaxing a friend outside the box of rules.

After college, a classmate and I hitchhiked through Ireland despite the warnings of lorry drivers and the middle aged bachelor and the two business men who picked us up so that no harm would befall us.

Back in the states, I picked up hitchhikers myself for a bit–once an entire family, at the foot of the drawbridge, standing in a pouring rain. They crowded into my backseat, dripping, paper grocery bags in their arms.

There’s plenty of room for thought on a long drive under the shade of trees…


I got to thinking that I might like to open a store or suggest someone open a store, and it could be called–Paper and Ink–and it could be a place to slow down, to pour a cup of tea, to buy a sheet of stationery and sit at a long table, and write a letter, and send it to someone far away or around the corner.

Just now, a song from my childhood comes to mind…

Lost and alone on some forgotten highway
Traveled by many, remembered by few
Lookin’ for something that I can believe in
Lookin’ for something that I’d like to do with my life
There’s nothin’ behind me and nothin’ that ties me to
Something that might have been true yesterday
Tomorrow is open, right now it seems to be more than enough
To just be here today…

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BVtlsHD3yWc