I forgot to mention that the trip is over.
Safely home. Ran out of time somewhere in western Texas, and did the rest in a couple days’ interstate dash. So the Big Things In America tour might more accurately be called Big Things In The Southwest And Pacific Coastal Region, but that doesn’t really scan.
I hadn’t realized quite what a long trip it was until I arrived home and saw how strange it felt to be in my own house, wake up in my own bed. I’ve been back a few days now, and it’s just starting to feel normal again. But I’m trying to keep it from feeling too normal — there are a few habits and feelings and thoughts from the trip I’d like to keep around, see if I can hang on to them even as I deal with the hazards of living in a house again. (Leaking pool pump. Broken washing machine. Humid, moldy rooms. Ear-infected dog. And so on.)
Like the way travel — the kind where you visit friends or family and stay with them for a few days before moving on — puts you into other peoples’ realities for a while, reminds you that there are other ways to live than what you’ve gotten used to.
Or that peculiarly American form of walking meditation which happens in cars, on empty highways, when you’re too far from your destination to be anticipating your arrival, when you forget to count miles or hours and just exist, in motion.
The night that demonstrated the importance of not going home early.
Leaving town on a not-yet-rainy morning with a full tank of gas and no particular destination in mind for the day.
Sitting on cooling red dunes that tried to kill you earlier in the day, surrounded by sunset and distant thunderstorms and an entire desert all to yourself.
And so on.
It’s not easy to see how, exactly, to bring those kinds of feeling into day-to-day life. The last one, especially: that might be asking a bit much. But at least it’s a reminder that those feelings exist, are accessible. If nothing else, I’ve been pushed out of my rut; now it’s just a matter of not falling too far back in.
So, then, I’m home. The pool pump is fixed, I’ve cleaned up most of the mold, we’ll be able to take the cone off the dog’s head in a few days, I think, and the washer repairman will be here tomorrow. It’s good to be with Emily. Looking forward to seeing more local friends. Real life gets started again.