On the Road (Righting Myself)

I’ve been experiencing a strange sensation. The only thing I can find to compare it to is an Etch-A-Sketch. As in, I am the Etch-A-Sketch.

Driving across five substantial states in two days can be terrifically disorienting. I alternately feel: free, lonely, lost, settled, nostalgic, grateful, anxious, tired, invigorated, slow, and much too fast. Wait–are those hawks reeling high above? Gone are the crows. Come is a stretch of interstate highway on which the only car I encounter (in both directions) is a red semi diminishing to a blip in my rearview.

There isn’t much green anywhere and less the farther west I travel. I am startled to realize I miss Ohio. Not just my people, but O-H-I-O. I refuse to change the clock in my dash, so I play the recalculating game.

Back to that Etch-A-Sketch. A few times I’ve literally shook my head as if to right myself. It kind of worked, though that general sense of unmooring persists.

As opposed to my mostly solitary pursuit, Jonah has been surrounded by humanity and activity. Yesterday (as reported by my mother) upon entering the plane that would take them to Atlanta, J loudly proclaimed, “It smells like people in here!” After waiting over an hour on the tarmac in Atlanta, he asked the flight attendant, “When is this plane going to start moving?” and my mom said they almost started applauding.

Well, all I can smell is a dry Kansas wind blowing across hundreds of acres of grassland. I wish I weren’t so sleepy, because this is my favorite part of the trip. The last leg home–and all I want is a helping of buffalo salami and a walk and a nice long sleep. Better get moving, even if it’s more dream state than exhilaration.

I wonder if this is a little bit like what Jonah feels like when he can’t settle himself, when he practically hums with energy as he swings or spins runs a circuit through the house. I won’t presume. The Flint Hills await.

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