I started my year by throwing my writing into two boxes. I’d just finished my second novel and it was ready for edits. Then I grabbed a suitcase full of clothing, my wool blankie – a Russian made wool coat, and said “Let’s go,” to my husband. We managed to slip out of Renton, WA where I’d lived for most of fifty years before the snows closed the town down for another two weeks.
I wish I could say I was eager for the New Year but the truth was I was exhausted and numb. I’d lost an inner part of myself and I couldn’t say everything I felt.
My husband and I drove over the icy mountains, in the setting blue dusk, snow drifting like the discarded shell of life. We slipped a few times, laughed a bit and watched mile after mile of snowy hills go by. We found Christmas decorated motels with hot fresh chocolate chip cookies and shared tales of closure from others on the road and chatted with the young pair of lovers in the hot tub who made life together a day or two at a time in a hectic life.
Then we were off again. I found bald eagles watching over the rivers, a hidden red bridge in snow, took a picture of me as death in the bathroom window, and slowly eked toward Vegas.
Las Vegas is a sad place to share Christmas and by the time I had my $100 of gambling money stolen by the slot machines I was ready to drink up as much free champagne over dinner as I possibly could. Tipsy and laughing I found a way to imagine myself in Egypt as the sunset over the pool.
I found myself in Phoenix in the Titan Missile museum, thankful that the duty officers bear the weight of sudden assured world death and thankful they’d shut some of them down. Then I laughed because the roadrunner near our room didn’t zoom away and go beep beep.
We reached our first choice of destination, Corpus Christi, Texas. And then I fell apart. I am very thankful for the folks at the hospital in Corpus Christi who made me rest and be alone. I am thankful that the visits to a marriage counselor with my husband just highlighted the best parts of our relationship.
I am very thankful the sandy beaches in Corpus Christi where the fog lifts and falls among wildflowers; thankful that it let me walk for mile after mile and not think of anything I had to do. I am thankful we met some terrific birders in Audubon who showed us about and for the first sightings of rails. I learned I could talk to rails and they’d come out–Sora male chasing female for mating and the King Rail as just as displaced as I.
But Corpus Christi wasn’t the right place I needed to be. So we packed up, to try Louisiana and found some neat people, great food, a strange town of night and day and had to travel on.
I’m thankful I was able to see my Uncle Randy again and his wife and son.
And that while in Oklahoma City walking the Cowboy museum, I am thankful I got to talk with my dad for the last time. I am thankful I was able to leave home and allow him to die and leave this world because his last years were no fun. He lost his last children, was unable to eat, and tied to a catheter and his muscles slowly giving out. I’m thankful I didn’t have to see his last days, the mini-strokes and defeat because I can remember the man he was– big gentle square hand, Mr. Fixit, ready with a joke, everyone’s favorite boss, his ready hug, his dedication to all of us kids, with no restrictions on who we were or what we would do and ready to let us ride a hot rod red car just for the fun of it. And though I missed seeing him just before he died and wasn’t permitted to go to the funeral, I am thankful for all that came to say their goodbyes and drink a last drink with him for the road.
And then there were all the busy days that let pain slip away while I repainted my home to sell it and of packing and letting people get some real buys. I am thankful none of it hurt to say sell-it was all stuff. I am thankful for all the years the grace of does slept on my lawn, and the hummingbird buzzing up to demand syrup, and the nuthatches that would chit-chat demand, “where’s the suet” and the circling gulls and crows like shadow mirrors waiting for anything that would come their way.
And then we were off through the Dakotas, through the land between the lakes, through Tennessee to the place we’d try to rebuild as home.
And now having traveled near to death and back again, and over 20000 miles and then off to Ohio and back again, I can truly say I am mostly thankful that this hellish year is nearly done and that I can sit at home and write.
And thankful I have a home that feels safe. And thankful I have a husband that laughs with me. And thankful the antibuse is maybe allowing my brother back to sanity.
And very much more thankful there’s still the sun rising up full and red and hungry, and the sea washing love written on the sand away and stories of a woman with her pampered poodle and the sighting of a snake underfoot and the emperor cricket and his lady and the blue metallic beetles and the gentle kiss in the mind of night all leading me on to tomorrow. I’m thinking the scent of hyacinths is all about tomorrow about to begin.
And thankful that all who care about me are still with me wherever they happen to be.
Happy Thankgiving Everyone!