a strange land

Woke up yesterday morning at 5am as our rented Trailblazer pulled off the freeway in Rawlins, Wyoming; a few hazy moments of near-thinking reminded me I’d stayed in this town one driving across country, possibly 1992 when I moved west. The day before, getting on a 7am flight out of Boise, the guy behind me was reading Heinlein’s “Stranger in a Strange Land”, a book I’d not seen in a long time. The title certainly fit my thinking: it’s been several forevers since I’d felt at home anywhere, even where I lived and had been living for many years. Now, called away on not more than about 36 hours notice to fill in for someone on a tour for a few weeks, doing crazy things like waking up at first dawn in the middle of Wyoming to drive a vehicle I’ve never driven before, I’m realizing there is somewhere now that is home – where my daughter is.

The last eight weeks or so have been jammed crazy full of deadlines – be here now, have these photos ready now, you need to be on this plane, you need to meet these people – and while it’s been frustrating my time to write, it’s given me plenty to write about: having my first photo exhibition, being on three TV statiions in one week, the completely terrifying talk to high school students about photography (what do I know about photography? I flunked it in high school myself!), taking my little girl to the same beach I played on as a kid, as did my mom and her mom (and maybe her mom too, we’re not sure). I had hoped to be able to sit around and write a bit for a few weeks before going off on tour again, but … here I am in Denver, about to drive to Dallas. Oh boy.

But there’s a cathedral in the middle of nowhere in Kansas, built on the plains by its members of old, who not just kicked in money but took their wagons far far away to get the enormous stones, that I visit every time I drive through Kansas – I can’t remember now if that’s three times or four but enough to start to feel like a routine of sorts – and I’m comforted by the thought that I should be seeing it later today. My schedule for the next few weeks is again full of pesky deadlines and timelines, but perhaps there will be enough time to get done the seven or eight entries I have crammed in my head, impatient for their turn at the fingers, fidgeting to be let out on “paper”.

And being reminded somewhere feels like home helps with wanting to write, for some reason. Thinking of that cathedral on my route today and how pleased I am in a very simple childlike way to be seeing it again for even just five or ten minutes, I realize that having that feeling of somewhere that home doesn’t just mean my baby or my house or my routines in my town, but somehow even better, I’m finding that place in my head again that feels like home. It’s great to have it back, but after being so long, there’s a feeling of being in a strange land, indeed.


This was published on 21 Jul 2004.
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