When I was in graduate school, my life was a series of road trips. With just two of us, often sleeping in the back of our Rabbit and cooking on our Coleman stove in rest areas, life was cheap and our lives were flexible. The open road beckoned with ceaseless appeal.
This weekend, my two daughters embarked on their first road trip together, heading off in the blue toyota they’ve christened Sammy to visit grandparents at the other end of the state, sending me a photo along the way of a giant ice cream sundae the younger girl devoured with enormous gusto.
On my own variation of a road trip, I spread out the pieces of my manuscript on the living room floor, and late that night, and much of the next morning, put my mind and literal hands to the harder parts of rewriting: plot, timeline, tension.
The next day, I linked up with a writer friend, traveling through Vermont’s stunning autumn mountains and valleys, and joined another woman in Manchester, Vermont, for a group reading. Although it’s a rare pleasure for me to visit with other writers, when my daughters walked into a pizza place, wearing leather jackets and smiling, I could not imagine ever being happier to see anyone.
That unending highway yet lures me with its mystique and unfolding adventures. At the end of the evening, while the younger girl slept sprawled on the backseat, my teenager and I drove home in the peerless dark, threading our way along rivers and through the mountains concealed in the night, talking, talking, talking.
In Barre, in the damp cold, I switched to my car parked alone in a lot beneath a radiant streetlight, and tailed my driving daughter for those final miles, that familiar way I’ve driven so many times, and now my daughter will, too, as pilot of her car rather than passenger. I followed my children all the way up the mountains, until we arrived home, safe and whole, together. I had kindled a fire in the wood stove earlier, and the house greeted us with warmth.
Here’s a few lines from one of the readers last night at Northshire Bookstore:
Whenever I’m feeling smug, as if I’ve hit a home run, I try to remind myself that I was born on third base. Third base for me was a Pennsylvania steel town where my dad labored at the mill, a union job with good wages and benefits. So, we had a decent home in a safe neighborhood where I went to a good school – third base…. I’ve witnessed enough bad luck to know that I am one of the truly lucky ones.
– David Mook, Corn-Pone ‘Pinions: Political Poems, Essays and Cartoons