It’s much more often now I spend weeks without leaving the homestead and months without visiting a real city. Just a year or so ago I would pine for a day or two away, in the clutches of traffic and chaos feeling called to the wine bars and ballet, the shopping and spoiling myself in all the ways I’d become accustomed.
This time within hours I was pining for home–the pups and peace, the green foliage instead of gray cement. In Houston I could admire the skyline, the high rises against a bright blue sky, but that was all. I stopped at only one store, but marveled at block after block, mile after mile, of store after store, from inner-city to every ring, in every direction, extending for hours. By marveled I mean flabbergasted, and as in–how is it that so many people choose this?
My journey in was for a date, but I was agitated. Agitated because I’ve lost my edge. Every foul smell, every loud noise–and they are bombarding from all directions–they all affect me now in neon. I begin to fret the sprawl will soon encompass every acre of our country and I’ll no longer be able to escape it. Or if not me, then the next generation, or the next. Who will we become if this is all we know?
Driving home at last, but my head is pounding. From outer city to inner city, back to outer, roads everywhere, construction and traffic and endless shops, so many fields of shops, finally on to the barrio, on to the uber-burbs, to through the bedroom communities, and aaaahhhhhh, the construction ends, at last. The traffic thins. I can breathe a bit.
4-lane, 3-lane, 2-lane- -from honks to waves–at last I breathe in air untainted. I breathe it in so deep my lungs ache for a second, but it passes as soon as I lift my eyes to the twinkling sunlets reflecting through the leaves in layers of faded green, rust, copper, gold. I see a hedge of wild crimson roses in front of an abandoned one-room wooden shack and know with no doubt I’d be happier living there than back in Megapolis.
One lane dirt road and my headache’s gone. Home at last, the pups have missed me yes, but less than I’ve missed them. They give me a quick smooch and wag and bolt to the car to find their treats. The chickens are milling about in the grass, of course, because it’s closing in on sunset. I watch the shifting light and listen to the wind rustling the leaves and I try to imagine who I would be if I’d never known these bonds. And who I would become if I lost them.
For some of us change comes easier and I’d always considered myself of that sort. Now I hear Janis Joplin and I turn the volume up to shaking and she’s swooning “Freedom’s just another word for nothing left to lose . . . ”
And she’s screaming “LA, la, la, LA, la, la, LA, la!” and tears are streaming down my cheeks, and I’m wishing so very much I could sing my heart as she does.
Home at last. 24 hours in chaos and back to calm. Back to normal. Back to LIFE! I’ve lost my edge and I’m glad it’s gone. Lucky thing is, I find out here I don’t need it anyway.