wild horses, sore bottoms, not even a skyway
be glad you aren’t my adrenaline.
oh, baby, it’s workin’ doubletime here in the house of the mama fetchin’ her baby.
okay, so he’s not a baby. and promise me you won’t tell him i said that. but he is my baby. and i am going to fetch him today.
you know, the boy in the woods. the one whose voice i can hear in my head, but not in my ear. the one i’ve not seen, except for in snippets of pixels, that new-fangled measure that means not very much, in the occasional group shot slapped on what would have been the camp bulletin board, only now it’s called the website. and it’s been a whole month.
that boy whose last letter to me mentioned something about feet hurting, something about how he didn’t mean to worry me but just taking off socks was, in his unforgettable word choice: “excruciating.”
the one who went on to hike on those feets for the next 14 days, 12 miles a day. at a minimum.
so, get me the car keys, get me the map. i am hitting the highway today.
if i could have, i’d have gone way back on tuesday. just sat there, outside of the camp, on the side of the road maybe. some pathetic poor mother come to pick up her child. the sheriff’s police, i can see it all now, squawking on some fool walkie-talkie about the kook with the book and the sunburn who won’t leave the side of the road ’til the camp opens up, lets out the wounded, the over-hiked hikers.
ah, but beneath my wild-eyed ideas there lurks a rational human (okay, okay, so make that: occasionally, partially, sometimes). and a mother, besides, who a.) had more than the side of the road in her weekly agenda, and b.) would be in big trouble if she staged such a hoopla.
so, no, i whiled away the week. kept an eye on the clock, though. took in the car for a once-over. gathered my audiobooks. mapquested every which way to the camp. hemmed and hawed: would i do this myself? would i do it en masse, hauling along not only a co-pilot but the now-6-year-old brother who tends to not like sitting still, not for hours and hours, and who, besides, might not be ready to give up his month of undiluted parental attention?
i dreaded, still do, the darn skyway that looms between me and my boy. gathered balm for the bones on my bottom, the ones that don’t take to long car rides.
ah, but nothing, not bridges that give me the woozies, not tushies that throb bloody murder, none of it’s keeping me home.
i’ll be brave. i’ll be strong. i’ll keep my eye on the prize at the end of the road: that tall moppy-haired boy, that boy who i love. that boy i would drive to the end of the earth to pick up, if that’s what it took.
this, after all, is a mere eight-something hours. and i’m not going alone, not really.
why, i’ve got henry david thoreau riding along. toni morrison, too. and that ol’ traveling companion, ms. kingsolver. they’ll all be chattering away. i’ll be listening.
i’ll be watching, too. looking for signs off the side of the road: only 373 miles to go, mama. keep truckin’.
you see, there is nothing so sweet–save for that first reach in the delivery room, the first time you feel the weight of that lump laid in your long-waiting arms–nothing so sweet as the sweetest reunion. a jumble of arms and hair in your mouth, and tears, at least yours, anyway, tumbling quite freely.
to feel your heart take a leap, skip a beat, as you spot the head, or the shoulder, or even the elbow, the parts you have memorized–they belong, after all, to the soul who you love, who you drove all this way for.
it’s the scene i will see, i will play and repeat as i cling to the wheel, step on the gas, inch my way over that mile-high bridge, that bridge that climbs higher than i care to climb, held up just by I-beams and concrete and hope. oh, lord, the chances we take, the fears that we conquer, the things that we do to drive to the arms of the boy that we birthed, the boy we so desperately love.
holy garden angels, that’s the prayer that we pray every time we pull from the curb. please keep us safe. if you don’t mind whispering your own home-grown version, i’m sure it would help as i head for the skyway, and then on up the mitten that’s the fine state of michigan. while you’re at it, spill your thoughts on the subject of road trips and sweet reunions. either, or, whatever most moves you. over and out, it’s off to the highway.