Suddenly, I’m on the road a lot after the time-bending months of the pandemic. I went to Wichita for a night to visit with an old friend I hadn’t seen since B.C. (Before Covid), then to the Writers’ Colony at Dairy Hollow Eureka Springs, Arkansas for another kind of travel: into the memoir I’m writing for deep-dish revision. I did a side trip to Fayetteville to see several long-loved pals. Today, I’m preparing to go a few hours southwest to the Symphony in the Flint Hills (free tickets arrived to compensate me for a poem in the field guide), and in a little over a week, we do a longer road trip to Minneapolis to help our daughter.
It’s a little discombobulating. It’s a bit exciting, and at times, on long stretches of monolithic freeways, a bit boring. There’s the old annoyances of drivers cutting us off or having to stop regularly to make my way through junk food to gas station bathrooms. Sometimes there’s a whiff of danger, like when part of a tire flew into the car yesterday somewhere on I-44 in Missouri. Often there’s great music to sing along to, good conversation (even when I’m alone because I can’t stop talking to myself), and astonishing skies. There’s also the memory games of what to pack and the hauling and sorting back into drawers and onto shelves after each trip.
Like many of us, I’ve been more wedded to my home after these years, so whenever I walk out the front door toward the car for such a trip, I feel a magnetic pull to go back inside, curl up on the couch with the cat, stay put. But June is, to quote the Oscar and Hammerstein musical, “busting out all over,” despite gas prices, rising temperatures, and a banner year for chiggers. The call to be with people and in places I love propel me to the car, and the car seems happy and jaunty on the road. So I’m a traveling woman lately, craving stillness and loving the journey all at once.