Showing posts with label Virginia. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Virginia. Show all posts

09 May, 2014

Everything Flows: The Dirty, Sacred River of the Soul


One of the things I like about traveling is the reaffirming sense of my place in the world. Riding the bus out here from River City, barrelling through the night the cement slipstream through Tennessee into West Virginia and Virginia, I thought about all the other times I'd been through those places. Tennessee -- Knoxville in particular -- continues to leave a bad taste in my psyche.  There was so much promise, so much denied, and, looking back, the foundation of my second marriage's eventual failure has it's roots somewhere in that haunted little city overshadowed by a large state school and the unrealized hope of the sunsphere... remains of the 1984 World's Fair... and the nuclear warhead manufacturing facility in Oak Ridge. 

I found myself feeling increasingly cynical and bitter as the bus rolled through the Volunteer State, even though I was generally happy to be back out again. The academic year is finished. I got most of my list of tasks completed. I scribbled a few lines in the first entry of a fresh travel journal about the leaving and about looking ahead to the sun I am perpetually chasing:

So long to the bean counters.
So long to the nit picking biddies.
So long to the dirty sacred river.
(Your memory courses through my veins.)
So long Beloved, until my promised return.
(Your love courses through the marrow of my soul.)

I would have prefered to bring The Traveller's Angel with me on this jaunt, like I would prefer to have her with me on every jaunt.  I've mentioned before that she travels well and how I appreciate her observations, her quick wit and insights about the world. It is important to be able to see the world differently when you are out in it, even if you are travelling to a place you've been before.  

And even though she couldn't come out with me in person this time, I carry her with me, anyway.

I was asked recently by a friend and fellow Wob, J.P. Wright, how I managed to find a woman who understands my need to be in my head... which sometimes means I need to be out and on the road, moving.  

My only answer is that sometimes the universe is inexplicably and unjustifiably kind. Though it's possible to reconstruct the timeline of our relationship (which, in all honesty has roots that reach back almost 20 years) I am mindful of the words my friend George Eklund told me on one the many times he and his wife Laura have welcomed me into the warmth of their home: 

"You know," he said, "there's someone for everyone. But the chances of actually running into that person are so against us."

This is one of the ways I understand grace,and am learning to accept faith.

Travelling without her in the seat next to me is hard; but there is magic and a miracle in loving someone and in being loved by someone who understands that I need to get out and stretch my legs from time to time, if only to meditate on my place in the world and see what there is to see.

My eastbound jaunt takes me once again to Virginia and the Atlantic Coast. The weather is better, and The Kid is living on her own (with her boyfriend, who I'm starting to like inspite of my deep and intense desire to not like anyone who dates my daughter.*), working, and going to school.  I have spent most of her life trying bolster her up across large geographic boundaries, and I was never able to visit as much as I would have liked. Now that I dedicate time exclusively to being on the road, it's easier for me to drop in and check on her, if only so she knows that I am in her corner regardless of my current zip code.

Travelling as I do, sometimes visiting friends, I run back into my own footsteps from time to time. But with each new visit, I am aware that the footprints eventually wash away, that even familiar places are always a little new, a little beautiful, a little sad, a little dangerous. 

And though I stand by my assertion that Norfolk is the UNFRIENDLIEST CITY I HAVE EVER BEEN IN, I have always had an affinity for the water, and I like the North Atlantic coast.  I never get tired of staring out into the horizon, focusing on everything and on nothing, feeling myself saturate and be saturated by the place in the distance where the water meets the sky, and everything merges into one thing. 

This is the only way I can grasp what sacred means... that place where all things merge, where the Traveller's Angel's soft touch reaches out to me in a sunbeam carried by North Atlantic winds, and I can watch my daughter and marvel at the adult she is becoming.

More later from down the cement slipstream...

17 March, 2014

Culpeper Tells, Winter Talks Back

The Traveller's Angel and I jaunted east of the dirty, sacred river, barrelling up I-64, through the deep Appalachian darkeness of  the West Virginia Turnpike at night. We left River City Friday afternoon on a warm and sunny afternoon in order to make for the second day of Culpeper Tells!, a brand new storytelling festival in Culppeper, Virginia.

Culpeper is a pretty litttle town that has, over the past gfew years, built itself back up from devestation. The town has survived four earthquakes in the last year. The Big One, though, happened in August 2011. The town of Culpeper  built itself back from a 5.8 magnitiude earthquake. 

We had the opportunity to see some tellsers we've seen before, and to hear a few we haven't. Naturally we signed up for the story slam. But time ran out before the Kentucky contingnent could storm the stage.

We left Culpeper Sunday morning and rolled down VA 17 towards Norfolk to visit The Kid. And, as is almost always the case when I travel, winrter was at my back. The storm warnings blew up behind us, ad we hit the coast a good couple of hours before yet one more last hurrah of winter rolled through dropping ice, snow, and sleet in a wide swath from Loiusville to the coast. 

The North Atlantic coast may not seem the most romantic of destinations in March. Even without the interminably long winter  weather, it's still chilly, windy, and rainy.  But it's been a while since I've seen The Kid's smiley, shiny face. It's also been a while since I've seen Will, the boyfriend -- who is a nice guy, in spite of the fact that no one will ever be good enough to date my daughter.

We're staying at a Super 8 -- the same one I managed to stay in when I was here in January 2012. That trip was a very different one. I was here then to deliver bad news, among other things. I was convvinced that I was on my way to disappearing, convinced that, with the dissolution of my marriage that I most certainly would disappear, because I had convinced myself that no one weould see me the way my ex had seen me. 

I didn't know that I was on the road to put myself back together. I didn't even know I was broken. 

Amanda travels well. She's smart, pays attention to her surroundings, and drinks up new experiences. She wants to see everything she can,learn everything she can, experience all that she can. Although we've known one another for nearly 20 years, I like to think it has taken that long for me to get back to her. That it's too me 20 yeasrs to see myself in a proper enough light that I could allow her to see me. Some processes take longer than others.

And now I am here, with her, visiting The Kid -- who isn't really a kid, I guess -- and even though the North Atlantic winter is lingering outside, I am basking in the wearmth of a deeper, lovelier and more permanent light. The light where all the stories and poems and songs come from, where road unrolls under our feet and there is blue sky ahead.