I am bundled up on a Tulsa couch as the sun rises behind my left shoulder.
Highway and heater noises whir a soothing song, while the giant pup and her family sleep.
This afternoon, I’ll repack the Vibe and head north for a few cow-filled rambling hours on the journey home. No matter the directness of my route, I will choose to take the long way home.
So I will travel past the Toot Sweet highway-side food joint, through Emporia’s front-porch-of-the-Flint-Hills way, in the arms of stone-piled prairie, and try to notice every oddkin and sweetness on this trip towards Manhappiness.
The long way home.
Which seems to be the way of a hopeful life; we live and sometimes leave much behind. Often, when our funky little hearts are squeezed of all life blood, we must find the strength to leave…escape and in the traveling, lay down what so easily encumbers us. Fear, bitterness, despair, weariness, victim-y anchors, violence, habits that eat up our souls and threaten our very lives, the notion of “look pretty and be sweet”, silence, assumptions, and so much more.
If you were to look along the exiling trail of this passing season, you’d see first the marks of an awakening sleeper – punch drunk with veiled violence – crawling away from the scenes of the crime.
There would be markers along the early way when very little movement was made except the wobbly steps of a once strong and merry adventurer. The way would pass a sheltering room where kindness and love and “Gracie” drew me forward.
You would certainly see the steps of those who nursed me back to life when life seemed too much to bear. Meandering walks through cypress forests, a dodge out for coffee…patience as the darkness threatened to consume the way already made.
And the tentative beginnings of Autumn adventures; hopeful steps forward leaning on the courage and foresight of those family and friends.
With winter came snow and snow and snow and the delight of it resuscitated my heart where rigor mortis had begun. Laughter returned and with it the thawing that brings life and pain – like the pins and needles and ache of frostbitten hands as they awake and life begins to circulate again.
In the season of snow and winter colors, I began taking the long way home from work, the store, Barnes road, friends’…even the library which is only a block and a half away.
I am looking for something that requires a slowing down to see.
Looking for the dad carrying his pink-swathed baby on his chest while he pushes another in a stroller.
Looking for the hands that are held
colors filling the sky
birds of prey in their brilliant beautiful terrifying hunt
books to enjoy
smiles to savor
green to emerge
kindness to silently observe and cheer
for proof of life.
Proof that this living is as rich as I’d hoped
even when living felt like dying.
Proof that there are still sweet surprises out there
where looking out for number one means looking out for all
birdsong in the air
days of salty ocean hair
stories to fill us up with courage
and friends who will explore
high and low places
… allowing that ice cream does sometime equal “dinner.”
I think that this “long way home” saves some of us
from the fearful and mediocre
and makes this short life
a little wider.
Still looking for the North Star.