As I’m trying to settle back in from my latest travels, I find myself growing restless. Every chance to drive somewhere triggers that “highway call.” That “road fever.” And a simple trip to the grocery carries with the temptation to just keep on driving. Doesn’t really matter where. Just need to be in motion.
So, I headed out to the closest trail to take in some of the sunshine of these ever-shortening days. Stretch my legs. Moving meditation. Mind a drift. Day dreams of far away places.
There’s only one lengthy trail nearby and it sort of weaves in and out of the countryside while skirting this small Midwestern town. And as I walk, it occurs to me that I’ve called this place “home” for four years now – to this date exactly. I had never really intended to stay.
A temporary hold-over while I adjusted to the loss of my prior home. A marriage destroyed by my partner’s alcoholism. She refused all attempts at getting help. It’s not easy watching someone you love self-destruct, but life does go on. It has to.
In these past four years, I worked a little over a year and half before internal and external backstabbing saw my position handed off to someone else as a political favor. Age discrimination brought the career to an early demise. All-in-all, though, it’s been ok. Probably a blessing.
So, I loaded up the car and drove. And I’ve been on the road now for at least a year of those remaining eighteen months. Exploring, rediscovering, breathing again. Stopping back here periodically to rest up, repack, and move on again.
Other places had that homey feeling. Sort of like you grew up there and fit in. Like you could stay and be content. I never bothered to get to know this town. I hadn’t planned on fitting in. Still don’t care to. But here I am.
Today, I diverged from the natural part of the trail that follows a stream through the woods and headed into the heart of this unknown downtown. What is this place where I’m hanging my hat? Where I know no one.
It strikes me that there are a number of features that are universal to the places I’ve been. Of course, there’s a “Main Street.” But there’s always a Broadway, Euclid, Park, Oak, Maple, Elm, and 1st through 10th streets. There’s always a Memorial Park and a Veterans Park. Plaques and signs from the local Chamber of Commerce. Lion’s Club, VFW, JCs. Sometimes a local chapter of the Confederate Sons or Daughters.
While there’s going to be a cemetery or two, I was surprised to the see that the street leading through the main cemetery was named “Dyer.” Some weird twist to that one. Some cemeteries don’t even name the roads running through them.
There’s always a part of town that’s lined with restored Victorian homes, and a part where the same style homes are decaying. Where you could drop a hammer on the roof and it would fall through every floor to the basement.
There are always some nice people sitting out on old porch swings that will wave and say hello. And there are a few front porches and alleyways occupied by people who I wouldn’t want to run into at night. Or maybe even right now in broad daylight. They eye me as an invader of their turf. A hush descends. I keep moving.
Downtown businesses are mostly closed on a day you’d expect them to be open, except for the bars. And there’s one of those on every corner. All busy at 2:00 in the afternoon. Not much else to do around here I guess.
Half of the shops are going out of business. Booming economy is nowhere near here. An old antique shop says it’s having a “retirement” sale. Sixty to seventy percent off. But it’s closed with no hours posted.
The streets closed for the farmer’s market open again as the last pickup drives off. I think there will be some type of Halloween parade on these streets next weekend. Parades and high school bands always a staple.
I can always find the courthouse by looking for the flag. Small town kingdoms where prosecutors and judges rule.
I head through one of the parks on my way back to where I parked the car. I’ve always enjoyed hearing the happy voices of children playing. Reminds me of simpler times when days stretched on forever. When games had no rules. We made things up as we went along. Unbound imaginations.
Maybe that’s why I enjoying moving. Stretching days down the length of the highways. I guess it doesn’t matter what town I’m in. Some things seem eternal. Echoes of the last stop.
Maybe everywhere is home 🙂
Photo: This Victorian home was restored and converted into a Bed and Breakfast. Another staple of small town America.