I would much rather be home, listening to Joan Osborne on the CD player, lying on the couch with you sleeping across the sofa curled under the cotton throw coiled against the winter battering the windows ca tucked into your knees.
Instead, I sit on the bed CNN droning in the background and stare out at the Hoyt Cinemas the marquee blank but blazing over the barren street with the occasional car sliding by in oblivion.
In Paris the air traffic controllers have joined the strike much to the mirth of the citizens of London but I will have to postpone my trip or perhaps just spend a couple of days wandering the Cotswolds roaming among time worn tombstones nestled in the shadows of ancient churches.
In six hours I will run along the bay, under the watchful eye of early diners in the Marriott coffee shop and the lone egret standing at water’s edge watching the giant bird with unmoving wings reach out for the sun.
First Appeared in The Distillery: Artistic Spirits of the South, Vol. 4, No. 1, Winter, 1997.
“Trains are present,” she said,” and somewhat the buses, but airplanes are mostly absent.” I understand what she meant, and didn’t need her to cover hands over her ears to cement the point. On a train, most sit back, some with ear buds but many simply stare out the window at towns and villages and fields flowing by, willing to share bits of their lives, real or imagined. On a train there is only truth, and what is said is real, if only within the confines of the car. On a plane the people hide inside headphones, bend their headrests around their ears, as if to demark some personal space inside which the person in the adjacent seat dare not enter, even with words. “Trains,” she said, “are as much about the journey as the destination, while planes are an abyss between the points of departure and arrival, crossed with the fear you could fall into the pit of another’s life and never again emerge.” I agree with her as we pull into a station and she rises to disembark.
It’s 12 degrees the night air slices through my sweater my teeth chatter. Standing in the lot fetching my cell phone from the glove box my breath congeals around my face a cloud. I look up at the moon snowflakes dancing on my forehead. Luna’s face is shrouded by a cirrus veil, but her eyes are yours her lips soft caressing curl upwards in a smile as yours. I tell her of my love and she whispers her love reflectively in the voice I hear as I curl next to your picture slipping slowly into sleep.
She walks with a deliberateness that bespeaks years of always knowing what the destination is. Getting to the destination, she knows is far less important than having one. On occasion she would arrive at her destination and would then have no option but to immediately select her next destination, for being on one place too long was, to her, a form of living death. Many thought her a wanderer, and she was fine with that. She knew the shortest distance between two points was a straight line it was also just the most boring, and for her it was really all about the trip.
Today was downright exhausting, and my hour long walk along the river left me dripping and drooping. It wasn’t different than most days, same time, same place, and the usual 756 miles, according to my old friend Orion, who was watching from his usual perch, unseen, as he prefers it by day. When I was done, I started to complain about how I felt, when Orion interjected, “Just be thankful you’re not in Florida today, its hotter by far, and your usual walk would have covered a full 930 miles today, and there you’d have reason perhaps to complain just a bit.” Heading home to shower, I called out to Orion, “You know you are one heavenly pain in the ass.” “Yeah,” he replied, “that’s what Artemis said.”
The little girl-women pile onto the train carrying backpacks, pillows and stuffed animals, all they will soon leave in the rooms of childhood. In the train’s café, Gerald welcomes us back his “established customers,” he says to all, as we sit beneath the wide awning that is his smile, sipping the much needed coffee.