i made it at last! after the sweat lodge on sunday in crestone, we enjoyed a meal prepared by nicholas, another arkansan far from his motherland. he’s even from the ozarks!
in the morning i awoke to say goodbye to the kids and loaded up the rav one last time. it had been so cold that all fluids and a bag of tomatoes had frozen – probably repeatedly – as had the power steering fluid, apparently. she warmed up, though and was just fine (for the moment – dun-dun DUN!) (that’s foreshadowing music). she’s a trooper. we said goodbye to chris and andrea and i was sorry to leave their lovely home, full of life: pet rats and mice, two funny kids, and a visiting puppy dressed in a jacket made from the end of a pair of sweatpants. aw!
i followed deborah, the other woman who had been staying with andrea and chris that weekend, out of town and into the mountains to the north where there was a natural hot springs. it was a clear day, but chilly and it was with trepidation and shivers that i disrobed and tiptoed to the first pool. it was in the wood, steam rising from the water, diffusing the morning sunlight. submerged, the water was warm and comfortable and deborah and i chatted. she is about my mother’s age, but her way of life reminds me of my own: she has been transient, wandering, for four years now. once she lived in asheville in a community she helped to build around a sort of holistic lifestyle, but she had moved on and kept moving.
nice how one can feel an instant kinship when traveling, seemingly randomly, but not necessarily so. we tried out the swimming pool and talked a while longer, but i began to get antsy to get on the road and said my farewell.
i was driving east toward oklahoma when i noticed that my car popped out of gear. strange, i thought – did i bump the stick? but no, it appeared that after 9,000 some-odd miles, the rav’s 5th gear had gone kaput. i drove the rest of the way to oklahoma city in 4th gear, hoping everything would be ok. which it was.
i got to my friend havilah’s house around 12:45 am – much later than intended, but all in one piece.
next day i went to lunch with my friend angela and caught up for the first time since i moved away from okc in 2006 to ramble around india. we went to the red cup, my old favorite spot. i stopped back by havilah’s before leaving town for the final leg of this journey: the 5 hours back to green forest. i am lucky to have so many awesome friends scattered about the country.
i am also one of those fortunate people who was taken home from the hospital when i was born to the house that my parents still call home. this is a mixed blessing. on one hand, the adage that you can’t go home again does not apply: clearly, i can. on the other hand, my mother and i seem to revert to our high school dynamic of yesteryear, each ruffling the others’ feathers somehow moreso than when we are elsewhere. this is just one of the dangers of being home, and perhaps why i don’t go there more often. regardless, i love being there, with mom and dad, the dogs, the cats. mom has been working on a new firepit in the back yard and we tried it out more than once. very successful!
i also got the chance to see my childhood best friend, dannelle, whose mother used to babysit me. it had been since high school that we had seen each other, but some people you will always get along well with. we had fun in eureka springs – the only place hip enough in carroll county to have bars one might actually want to patronize.
as nice as it was to be home, i didn’t have a lot of time to relax there, since we planned to head out of town for florida early the week after i arrived. we had a party to inaugurate the firepit on the sunday night before we left. it was a lovely affair with tiki torches and yummy food and pleasant company – not to mention dogs romping and of course some boozy concoctions.
the next day was a whirlwind of packing and cleaning and the following morning, bright and early – or rather, so early it was still dark – we rolled out of green forest and made our way down that familiar sequence of highways toward alabama, where we would stay the night with mom’s college roommate and good friend, gayle.
we had a jolly pre-thanksgiving thanksgiving with gayle and her grandson, cade. next day we set off again, intent on making it to sarasota. my aunt and uncle were already there and thanksgiving was the following day. i visited my sister and her kids and we had a fun evening of watching netflix and just hanging out. i got to read my niece the book i bought her last christmas about a winged kangaroo!
thanksgiving was as festive and full of food as always, though we had a notable dearth of pies this year, compared to my father’s typical zest for making more pies than people in attendance. this year, he kept it under control with 4 pies in addition to the turkey and sides and his signature spaghetti bread.
but all those holiday preparations were just the tip of the iceberg, since we were planning to celebrate my grandmother’s 90th birthday on saturday. mom and skye worked hard on the food and we all helped with decorations. my grandmother, mutti, likes bright colors, and we festooned her lovely house with garlands and colorful paper fans. the party was a big hit and mutti had friends and grandchildren, great grandchildren, a niece, a cake shaped like the succulents she loves. it brought everyone there joy to be with her to celebrate the first 90 years of her very special life.
saturday night i went out to the shamrock, sarasota’s current most popular hole in the wall, and was happy to run into some friends from my previous sabbaticals in srq (that’s the airport call-letters for sarasota and a shorthand for referring to the town). sarasota is, in many ways, the home town that green forest could never be for me. for one thing, most of my friends here are people i met as an adult. for another, most of them are still unmarried and as-yet childless, like myself, and therefore like going out to bars. i can only imagine going to the one bar on the green forest square. not that imagining it is something i would want to do.
sunday i got to meet up with my friend lara – a wonderful woman who was friends and coworkers with my sister erika back when she lived in sarasota for a few years. they always remained close and i am fortunate to have become close friends with lara as well. seeing her is always a treat.
so what now? that is the big question. i have crossed the country from east to west and back again. with christmas coming on, i’ll stay in the sun and hope to plot the next step of this adventure i like to call my life.
love and miss,