Journey


At four o’clock in the morning, we rouse ourselves and pack the car with last-minute things—computers, lunches, cell phones, toiletries—before heading south.  Thinking about the eleven or so hours this trip will take is daunting.  At sixty-five miles per hour, we watch the moon set and the sun rise as one by one the kids drop off to sleep in the back seat.  Nine hours in, we grow tired of the radio—the stations are either too loud or too classical; serious voices of preachers occasionally cutting through static.  Everyone is irritated.  The landscape has become routine.  I find myself thinking can’t we just be there already?

And then I’m reminded of the time over twenty years ago, when I packed up my car and headed to school in Arizona, my twelve-year-old brother my companion.  I was thrilled to get away from home, to begin a life for myself.  Occasionally, my brother would ask to stop.  He wanted to see the Petrified Forest and the Painted Desert.  But I pressed on, eager to get on with my new life, as if by stopping, my future would escape me somehow.





I moved in to my apartment, lugging my suitcases, my books, my pencils and my dreams to the second floor.  I arranged my apartment and went from room to room, enjoying the view of the pool and the mountains, relishing my independence, wondering where life would take me.

A few days later, after I’d taken my brother to the airport, there was a rapping upon my door.  A woman introduced herself—Beatrice or Betty or something like that.  But my boyfriend—and future husband—immediately nicknamed her Hildy. 

The name stuck.

Hildy was short and fat.  She had a poodle perm: a mass of tight brown curls that must’ve increased the circumference of her head by eight inches.  She had thick lips and a dark mole and she wore transition glasses that prevented me from ever fully seeing her eyes.  That first day, she told me that the Queen of Sheba had stayed in our apartment complex.  That we were drinking her bathwater. 

Hildy, her husband Herman and their son lived in the apartment below mine.  Herman was a thin, pasty man with a high voice.  He wore white tee shirts and plaid pants no matter the weather.  Their son, a man of thirty, left the apartment only to go to work.  In size and shape, he resembled his mother.  In coloring and voice, his father.

Evenings, they would squabble, their arguments starting out quiet and slow.  I would catch a wisp here, like a thin stream of mesquite floating upon the air.  But eventually, as the evening wore on and the resentments continued to burn, the argument grew louder, one voice low and gruff, the others high and thin.  The argument would crescendo until the son’s voice erupted into screams.

I avoided Hildy.  She became suspicious of me.  She began to watch my comings and goings from behind the shade of her sliding glass door.  She called security and reported that I was disturbing her.  She often came to my apartment to complain about my behavior.

Within three weeks, I’d had enough.

My new apartment wasn’t near the pool.  It didn’t have a terrific view of the mountains.  But it was tucked far in the back of the complex.  Hildy would never find me.  I would no longer hear the arguments of her family.

My new neighbor was a bachelor.  In the evenings, I could hear his television; his dishwasher; the flirtatious telephone messages his girlfriend would leave on his answering machine.  I enjoyed eavesdropping on his quiet, comfortable life.

And when my husband and I graduated, I left him all the plants from my apartment.  Because, of course, we were eager to get on with the next stage of our lives.

I never did see the Painted Desert or the Petrified Forest.  I never saw Hildy again.

And as we make our way into the tenth hour of our drive, I wonder how much of my life have I rushed through in order to get there; wherever there may be.  I wonder, too, about Hildy’s situation: Was she caring for her son?  Or had the son taken his parents into his home?  Perhaps it was a combination; each of them bound together in an angry web of love and resentment and anxiety.  Back then, I didn’t care.    Perhaps I should have. 

My husband tells me we’re moving in a year; back to the place we both call home; the place I’ve left too many times to get somewhere else.  And I’m happy: This is what we’ve wanted for the past eight years.  I want to rush it.  Hurry the process along.  I want to get away from unfriendly neighbors and long commutes and this rush-about life we’ve been living.  But it’s not as simple as simply switching apartments.

We’re nearing the end of our drive.  The kids wake up and begin to chatter excitedly, peering out the window are we here?  And so I wonder one year hence: Of all the places we’ve lived, which place will be home to our children?  Which place will tug at their hearts?  Which place will they long to return to? 

But I cannot say. 

That is their journey, not mine.

This post has been linked to Yeah, Write.


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Writing in the Margins, Bursting at the Seams: Journey

Saturday, April 7, 2012

Journey


At four o’clock in the morning, we rouse ourselves and pack the car with last-minute things—computers, lunches, cell phones, toiletries—before heading south.  Thinking about the eleven or so hours this trip will take is daunting.  At sixty-five miles per hour, we watch the moon set and the sun rise as one by one the kids drop off to sleep in the back seat.  Nine hours in, we grow tired of the radio—the stations are either too loud or too classical; serious voices of preachers occasionally cutting through static.  Everyone is irritated.  The landscape has become routine.  I find myself thinking can’t we just be there already?

And then I’m reminded of the time over twenty years ago, when I packed up my car and headed to school in Arizona, my twelve-year-old brother my companion.  I was thrilled to get away from home, to begin a life for myself.  Occasionally, my brother would ask to stop.  He wanted to see the Petrified Forest and the Painted Desert.  But I pressed on, eager to get on with my new life, as if by stopping, my future would escape me somehow.





I moved in to my apartment, lugging my suitcases, my books, my pencils and my dreams to the second floor.  I arranged my apartment and went from room to room, enjoying the view of the pool and the mountains, relishing my independence, wondering where life would take me.

A few days later, after I’d taken my brother to the airport, there was a rapping upon my door.  A woman introduced herself—Beatrice or Betty or something like that.  But my boyfriend—and future husband—immediately nicknamed her Hildy. 

The name stuck.

Hildy was short and fat.  She had a poodle perm: a mass of tight brown curls that must’ve increased the circumference of her head by eight inches.  She had thick lips and a dark mole and she wore transition glasses that prevented me from ever fully seeing her eyes.  That first day, she told me that the Queen of Sheba had stayed in our apartment complex.  That we were drinking her bathwater. 

Hildy, her husband Herman and their son lived in the apartment below mine.  Herman was a thin, pasty man with a high voice.  He wore white tee shirts and plaid pants no matter the weather.  Their son, a man of thirty, left the apartment only to go to work.  In size and shape, he resembled his mother.  In coloring and voice, his father.

Evenings, they would squabble, their arguments starting out quiet and slow.  I would catch a wisp here, like a thin stream of mesquite floating upon the air.  But eventually, as the evening wore on and the resentments continued to burn, the argument grew louder, one voice low and gruff, the others high and thin.  The argument would crescendo until the son’s voice erupted into screams.

I avoided Hildy.  She became suspicious of me.  She began to watch my comings and goings from behind the shade of her sliding glass door.  She called security and reported that I was disturbing her.  She often came to my apartment to complain about my behavior.

Within three weeks, I’d had enough.

My new apartment wasn’t near the pool.  It didn’t have a terrific view of the mountains.  But it was tucked far in the back of the complex.  Hildy would never find me.  I would no longer hear the arguments of her family.

My new neighbor was a bachelor.  In the evenings, I could hear his television; his dishwasher; the flirtatious telephone messages his girlfriend would leave on his answering machine.  I enjoyed eavesdropping on his quiet, comfortable life.

And when my husband and I graduated, I left him all the plants from my apartment.  Because, of course, we were eager to get on with the next stage of our lives.

I never did see the Painted Desert or the Petrified Forest.  I never saw Hildy again.

And as we make our way into the tenth hour of our drive, I wonder how much of my life have I rushed through in order to get there; wherever there may be.  I wonder, too, about Hildy’s situation: Was she caring for her son?  Or had the son taken his parents into his home?  Perhaps it was a combination; each of them bound together in an angry web of love and resentment and anxiety.  Back then, I didn’t care.    Perhaps I should have. 

My husband tells me we’re moving in a year; back to the place we both call home; the place I’ve left too many times to get somewhere else.  And I’m happy: This is what we’ve wanted for the past eight years.  I want to rush it.  Hurry the process along.  I want to get away from unfriendly neighbors and long commutes and this rush-about life we’ve been living.  But it’s not as simple as simply switching apartments.

We’re nearing the end of our drive.  The kids wake up and begin to chatter excitedly, peering out the window are we here?  And so I wonder one year hence: Of all the places we’ve lived, which place will be home to our children?  Which place will tug at their hearts?  Which place will they long to return to? 

But I cannot say. 

That is their journey, not mine.

This post has been linked to Yeah, Write.


Labels: , ,

19 Comments:

At April 7, 2012 at 2:32 PM , Anonymous jaum said...

Great observations and sentiments...Then, switching to your children's prospective is neat.... and the last line PERFECT

 
At April 8, 2012 at 6:49 PM , Anonymous Bella said...

Kelly, you are a master storyteller. You managed to captivate your readers beginning to end and I for one, can only marvel at your magnificent writing style. It's interesting how after the years have passed, you wonder how Hildy is doing. I loved the description of the arguments as well as what took place in the bachelor's apartment. I hope that you will be able to make your move soon and that your children will be able to determine which place they call home. :)

 
At April 8, 2012 at 7:04 PM , Anonymous Elizabeth Young said...

I love this willingness to allow your children their own journey's. They will anyway, but it's wonderful you see this and are wise enough to let them go. Great post as always!

 
At April 10, 2012 at 5:15 AM , Anonymous Michael Gill 216 said...

Hi Kelly,
Thanks for finding gyroscopethattakesyouplaces.wordpress.com. I'm enjoying your blog for the first time. Love the names of your kids / characters. I have a filibuster myself. She's nine.

 
At April 10, 2012 at 7:45 AM , Anonymous Alison@Mama Wants This said...

I love how you weaved your experience with what will be your children's experience. Wonderful post.

 
At April 10, 2012 at 7:53 AM , Anonymous Mamamash said...

This is excellent storytelling. I greatly admire the ability to piece together your experiences and that of your kids. And you're right, how much of our lives have we missed just trying to "get there?"

 
At April 10, 2012 at 8:47 AM , Anonymous jamieywrites said...

I love this 'reflection' voice in your writing. It keeps us grounded, remembering where we were and how we have become :)

 
At April 10, 2012 at 9:03 AM , Anonymous Kgwaite said...

Hey! Just wanted to say I really enjoyed it! I had a whole comment written out but I'm not sure it posted. Thought you might want to know that (but of course it could have been my mistake!!)
Nice to "meet" you.
Christine
http://quasiagitato.com

 
At April 10, 2012 at 11:01 AM , Anonymous christina said...

my god i love your writing. your voice.

 
At April 10, 2012 at 1:00 PM , Anonymous Ado said...

Lovely - we can never read the last page of our own book even though we want to skip ahead!

 
At April 10, 2012 at 2:31 PM , Anonymous Julia said...

This is a question I wonder about too; what will my son's version of home be? It is so interesting to compare our stories to our children's, and to try to stay present in our own lives.

 
At April 10, 2012 at 2:40 PM , Anonymous kgwaite said...

Julia has left a new comment on your post "Journey":

This is a question I wonder about too; what will my son's version of home be? It is so interesting to compare our stories to our children's, and to try to stay present in our own lives.

 
At April 10, 2012 at 3:06 PM , Anonymous kgwaite said...

Mom-on-a-Budget has left a new comment on your post "Front Porch":

Lovely piece about friendship, it inspires me to write about friendship, and growing older, and moving on.

 
At April 10, 2012 at 7:37 PM , Anonymous Mayor Gia said...

Aw, very cool post. Very reflective.

 
At April 11, 2012 at 3:35 PM , Anonymous Michelle Longo said...

So true about rushing through to get to something!

 
At April 11, 2012 at 4:38 PM , Anonymous Bridget said...

As an Army wife this sounds a lot like my life. Always moving from one place to another, ready to get on with it at every turn. I'll think about savoring it a bit more now:)

 
At April 11, 2012 at 6:34 PM , Anonymous Susan said...

this is a really thought-provoking post; i often think about what home really means, since i've lived away from mine for over eight years. i sometimes wonder if it will be the same when i go back? and i guess what i remember is that it won't be, but it will be better in a different way. thanks for this!

 
At April 11, 2012 at 7:04 PM , Anonymous Kimberly Pugliano said...

Fantastic post!

 
At April 12, 2012 at 7:56 AM , Anonymous Tracy @ Scribblesaurus said...

Great post - reminds me how quickly life rushes by us.

 

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