“Aloof and lighthearted, I take to the open road.
Healthy, free, the world before me.
The long brown path before me leading wherever I choose…”
And so summer begins with Whitman’s inviting lines and that fleeting sense of release from the tangles of the daily round, loosing the knots, soaking in the soothing waters of time without schedules and the call to attend to morning birds and evening stars, the landscape no longer the backdrop for one’s personal movie, but the living, animated world inviting us to partake, observe, savor and enjoy:
“Done with indoor complaints, libraries, querulous criticisms,
Strong and content, I travel the open road.”
Of course, that “long brown path” is a paved highway with clearly marked exit signs and my choices of where to go are constrained by hotel reservations and rental car return dates— not exactly the larger freedom sung by The Incredible String Band years ago:
“Farewell sorrow, praise God the open door. I ain’t got no home in this world anymore.”
But still. I feel my blood tingling as I pack, anticipating that moment when the last bill is paid, Orff contract mailed, e-mail answered and longing for that exhilarating sense of driving way toward the wide open skies of the West. Now this travel blog will earn its name again, starting with a drive Eastward through the Grand Tetons and Mt. Rushmore en route to Michigan and the old cottage up north by the lake. At the end of June, it's back to the airports (three months away from them!) and a hop across the pond to Verona, Salzburg, Madrid. A chance to invite all those qualities of self locked up in busyness, business and the battles of the working life to come enter the room again, stretch out and sit on some front porch somewhere in quiet conversation. Of course, I will be working in Europe and happily so, but back in the Lone Ranger world of teaching without meetings, working with adults who have sought me out and if there are any tensions (which there rarely are), no need to resolve them—we’ll be saying goodbye in one or five days.
But every opening in one direction is a closing in another, every hello matched with a goodbye, every sweet joined with a bitter (that marvelous phrase they use in Brazil—saudade: bittersweet). Even as the spirit thirsts for this moment, there is an accompanying regret and sadness leaving my 90-year old mother for six weeks, my 17- year old cat and all the others I love and care for. But back to Whitman:
“I carry them, men and women, I carry them with me wherever I go…
I am filled with them and I fill them in return.”
See you all at the Motel 6— that is, if they have free wireless.