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Blue Sky

Travel and Non-Ordinary Reality: Every Magic, Days 276-277

Updated: Oct 2, 2023

Yes, Prairie Lights bookstore in Iowa City actually had a section called "Non-Ordinary Reality." While it mostly had books about visualization and decks of tarot cards, I'm thinking this term applies to any of the in-between states we ferry through, such as between waking and sleep, knowing and not knowing, and other general, even non-metaphoric forms of travel.

Yesterday, for example, I woke in a boy’s bedroom in a suburb of Coralville, Iowa, glanced briefly at the James Bond posters before packing, then drove to the Amish town of Kalona (where I mainly saw tourists of the Amish). There I met up with some of the other Poet Laureati for a reading at the general store, snagged a great cast iron pan for making corn-shaped cornbread in, and drove to Mary’s house, an old schoolhouse overlooking the early spring rolling hills in all direction.

After visiting talking over the virtues of great mustards with Tom and eating some astonishing apple tart, I drove south, past what locals call Guru U in Fairfield, stopping for iced coffee where I held open the door for dreamy man in long white roles, edged with gold. Then it was the long sloping up and down west, through farmland, woods, expansive valleys and occasional town before the interstate south, driving through sunset, taking the wrong I-435 near Kansas City and having to retrace some miles, and then shooting west to land at home sometime after six and a half hours on the road.

Although travel is animated, it’s also suspended animation. I’m between the habitual and regular, the do-this-now and what-next of my life and just cruising at 72 mph while listening to, in this case, Tina Fey read her very book book, Bossypants, on tape. Travel shifts time and season. At the same time, unless I’m fighting claustrophobia and missing the earth in a plane, I kind of love the possibilities unfolding in travel. What’s down the next hill? How does the sun barely show itself in a new place? Is there a locally-owned place to eat good fried chicken, and of course the constant question of do I stop here or wait until the next rest stop?

Now that I’m home, I’m surprised to see how new these trees look, bursting with leaves, glittering in the wind, after some days of being among the trees still yearning for leaf. I’m happy to be back in this bed, this bathtub, this house, this zip code. And I’m trying to meld the non-ordinary reality into this reality, just as non-ordinary actually although it may appear otherwise.

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