I drove through Eastern Montana on I-90 spending the first night in Glendive. I stayed in a La Quinta where the desk people gave my dog treats. I drove through North Dakota, long straight highway, construction, and telephone lines running in parallel wires alongside the highway. I got a grinder in Dickinson.
Driving through Minnesota, where the sky changes color to the more washed out blue of my childhood, the sky of my home of origin two states away, I saw a funnel cloud and a rainbow in the same sky.
I had to cancel my hotel reservation in La Crosse, as a result of a travel miscalculation, and a long day was made longer, stretching past the 12 hour mark, as I looked for a hotel room on a Friday night in a string of small towns in Wisconsin all booked up because of the tractor pull that weekend.
I ended up with a foul and over-priced room with a bathroom towel that was actually a towel that had been cut in half. I choose to recount no further details nor spread complaint and negativity other than to say it ran about $20 an hour and that I slept the bare minimum required to keep keeping on, showered, and exited stage left as fast as I could.
The next morning, my crabbiness from the previous night dissolved as I finished driving through Wisconsin with its kitschy lakeside towns. I had looked forward to driving through Wisconsin since before I’d set out. I like driving through Wisconsin.
Over the next two plus weeks, I went running, jogging, twice, for the first time in a decade . I flew to the east coast from Chicago. I went to a barre class. I went paddle boarding. I rented an elliptiGO, a strange contraption, and rode it 138 blocks. I stood in the ocean chatting with nieces while getting whacked by waves. I sat on the beach and talked of life, love, and politics with extended family. I thought about Greece and what was happening there. I had the best fish tacos of my life. I walked miles of beach.
I saw a friend I hadn’t talked to in a year. He had suffered a small stroke, nothing you’d know by seeing him or talking to him. But his was just one of several bad health reports that have been rolling in from friends. I entertained a brief bout of hypochondria.
Strokes. Heart attacks. Cancer. Listen to me, baby Jesus, just let it be fast.
On the way home to Montana, I took a detour to see a writer friend I hadn’t seen for 30 years. His words on a street corner in Champaign-Urbana, IL are what led me to Montana so long ago.
The drive was brutal, and satisfying. Everything had its own beauty along the way. Out of nowhere the words would kick up from my mind’s ongoing mulch, mulch: I’m happy.
And, the dog was a trooper.