Thursday, January 6, 2011

Unwinding in the heartland

I had not expected that the journey to the friend’s condo where I am staying a week to write and “be” would have been so eventful and evocative. I had been warned that once I exited the highway, it would be scenic.

I am discovering that many of my recent pilgrimages have been to Indiana, the heartland, in an unconscious sort of way. I adore the countryside here. The Hoosier flair is distinct from that of the Buckeye. There’s more of a “homey”ness and charm. A simplicity and acceptance of a plainer, yet richer, life.

The first hour was about unwinding and remembering who I am. Just me. Not me and anybody else or their needs. Merely mine.

At the hour mark, I was retracing an old and painful path to a job I had over a decade ago at a casket company in the middle of Nowhere, IN. The stark, contemporary structure still stands again the farms and spires as it did then. The memory of spilling up the steps with the other clones every morning is as clear as a zombie movie. Like lemmings marching to their death in a mindless trance. For the first time, I encountered the glass ceiling. I drove 65 miles each way for three years and tapped that angst today. I’m still waiting to write: “Whose dream is it, anyway, to work at the casket company?” 

With a sigh, I passed Batesville and veered off the freeway a few exits later and immediately into farm country: extended barns collapsing into the road, muddy white peaked houses, laundry fluttering in the chilly sun and wonderfully snaking two-lane roads.

Until Columbus, IN, a contemporary architectural Midwest marvel I visited as a Girl Scout [the few years I wore a very constrictive uniform … never to be repeated] that had mesmerized me with the juxtaposition of soaring art rising above the cornfields.

More curves and I was breathless passing through very familiar territory: a state park and environs we frequented as kids; one of our family’s favorite haunts. I had not had time to study the route, so this leg was a gift of time travel. I took a quick detour through town and spotted the local restaurant still there, decades later, and the antique shop that used to boast a real-live skeleton in a coffin; a highlight for us kids. What is it with me, Indiana and death?

On toward Bloomington and the GPS rankled me, undermining the written directions I had from the gracious condo owner. It sent me the wrong way on a one-way street. Instant terror easily overcome by climbing the curb. Not to be repeated [hopefully].

Finally ending my journey in the woods overlooking a lake with nothing but me, my computer and book calling.

• What's my current journey?
• Am I taking the time to travel the scenic route?
• What's unraveling for me along this journey?
• What places is it touching in my memory?
• How is it shaping my future?

hurriedly leaving
slamming the trunk closed
and taking off

only aware of getting away

for the beauty
of the journey

because, often,
the journey
is the destination

only we seem to forget

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