I'm doing something this week I never expected to do in my lifetime: driving cross-country alone. . .well, not alone exactly. . .with a dog and a bird. If that sounds like a circus train that derailed somewhere back apiece, well, it is. And it did.
It's not like I haven't made this trip before, but for the last eighteen years I've made it, usually twice a year, with the husband whose loss we're all mourning, soulmate, co-pilot, and in recent years, navigator. That hole we face daily is still big enough to jump through and dangles in front of us as we wander forward.
I feel more than a little guilty for ever indulging a thought I couldn't do this, when I had ancestors who walked the plains. I get a ribbon of Interstates and a hundred Cracker Barrels, more or less, their white rockers waiting for well placed bottoms, jet trails in the sky, pecan stands and peaches, Jack and Diane.
It seems like such a small thing when Ashley can't stop thinking of Bentley and the guy on extreme weight loss can minus 315 lbs in a year when his lamppost used to leave him breathless. 'I'd like to see Maureen Dowd doing it,' I think as I'm reminded not to stand on wet tile as I use the hairdryer stuck in the wall, already far too precariously near the vanity sink. Just as well this is a handicapped room, no young squaw affianced to a French trader, no Rendezvous on the horizon.
Three things are needful: red licorice, teriyaki jerky and cold water. On these we can survive, hoping we don't break down in Memphis and have to take to the streets, sing for our supper, or dance with a twister. A girl could go gray waiting for the help that never comes, no Valjean to lift the wagon, no bishop offering candlesticks, and finally it becomes self-evident we are our own ringleaders, no whips to crack, fingers to snap.
My dad put the gypsy in me long ago, sandwiched in sleeping bags in the back of a station wagon. I'm reminded my husband made this journey alone once, stopping at Weeki Wachee and Cafe Risqué, something about mermaids.
Whoever said the journey of a thousand miles starts with a single step should be shot.
I've got this.