(Thanks to Christopher James Heyworth for the title)
I’m sitting at a butcher block table looking at the swaying tree-tops of Appalachia in Johnson TN. Unfortunately for them, it’s storming again. The last thing this drenched and flooded area needs. Is it possible to find a silver lining in the steel grayness beyond the tree-tops?
The storm and severe storm warnings on the radio has caused my hostesses boyfriend to delay his departure. Is this good or bad for them? As a complete stranger at her table, I have no true idea, but I can deduce by the atmosphere. They are engaged in a creative activity together. They are attaching her grandmother’s buttons of all colors, shapes, sizes and material to her new bedroom curtains. There is occasional laughter, neither boisterous nor muffled. Easy laughter—to me. He does walk past occasionally and murmur about the rain needing to stop, but he’s not pacing, and there’s no sense of aggravation. So, from this objective observer, I say it’s neither a good or bad situation, merely acceptable.
Of course, there is also my own state of being as a distraction from the storms and what they may be doing to others outside of this pleasant mountain cocoon. I am content, calm, and wistful. This house is on a dead-end of a residential street. All of the houses sit on fairly large size lots surrounded by trees. Decks and deck furniture (not from Wal-Mart—if you know what I mean), and perfectly manicured lawns rolling down the hills. Window boxes of petunias, deck railing boxes filled with petunias, miniature English gardens tucked neatly along the front of the houses. All so very lovely, and yes, serene, and yes, I wouldn’t ‘mind’ having it and the entire splendor. I’m just no longer willing to put in the effort and time required to acquire, sustain, and maintain the splendor. Besides, it’s not really me.
I’m looking for the little cottage surrounded with trees and a spot to grow my winter sustenance. An area for my egg deliverers, and my milk lady who will wait patiently for my warm hands on her swollen teats. A deck yes, but not splendor, natural, simple and welcoming; comfortable enough that words flow from these fingertips to touch hearts and minds of others, possibly the world.
Now, I know there are some waiting for the trip details from Hopkinsville to Johnson City. No stress for the ‘tomorrow arrival’ of today. Well, that’s not exactly true. Nothing outrageous, just kinda white-knuckling—for me. See, it’s been about six years since I’ve driven full time. I borrowed a vehicle here and there to do Christmas shopping or, well really that’s it, but when you live in a city like Chicago, the public transportation is so good, there’s really no need for a vehicle. Why pollute more, and give the oil barons even more profits if you don’t have to? Right? The Chicago Transit Authority (CTA), though ALL Chicagoans complain mercilessly about it, is one of the best transit systems in the country. Okay, so I went wayyy off topic there, maybe coz’ I don’t want to really talk about the white-knuckling.
So, here’s the thing, here’s me in my 1992 GMC V8 gas guzzler pickup driving through the Appalachian mountains. Haven’t driven in so long that even on a straight road, I have trouble keeping it straight—only a little, don’t freakout that there’s some middle-aged woman swerving all over the roads—it’s not that bad. I just have this thing about straight, and I can never keep it perfectly straight. Can you? Anyway, the mountains. One thing I thought of while driving is why is life so slow down here, and driving is so fast? Chicago highway speed limits are 55, Wisconsin is 65. Down here, where the living is easy, where it takes folks 10 minutes to say the word ‘hello’, down here where the roads curve at 90 degree angles and the inclines are upwards of 40 degree. Down here the speed limit is 70, and NO ONE does it. I tried to keep it at 75 and every single vehicle on the road passed me by, from semi’s to Harley’s to little old ladies from Pasadena. And here’s Donna, gripping the steering wheel, making half-moon fingernail prints in the palms of my hands (yes, both hands), radio blasting oldies (there’s that little old lady from Pasadena), and thinking, “What the hell is the matter with you? Why aren’t you sitting on your sofa with Rocky and Lola purring warmly, watching the Cubs or something?” No! You see, that’s not slow enough for ME.