Thursday, August 26, 2010

"I feel like I've been smashed by a landed comet."

This is what my daughter said to me a couple of days ago. And right now, I get it. I am right there with her under the rubble.

Tomorrow, I drive off to New Mexico and tonight I'm trying to conjure up a few more words to fill my promised twenty minutes.

At least twenty minutes of writing every day. Twenty minutes every day for ninety days. It's a plan and I need a plan.

I am tired, but I am writing. I am tired, but I am thinking.

I am looking forward to the long solo drive across the desert and up into the mountains. I am looking forward to those red rocks around Gallup and the last long hill that glides you down I-40 into Albuquerque.

The last time I made this drive, my dad was in the passenger seat next to me. We'd spent four days in Los Angeles together. We rode roller coasters at Knott's Berry Farm and ate lobster burritos on the beach. I was driving my stepmother's big, diesel pick-up truck and because Dad had Alzheimer's, I drove the whole way. He drew cartoon pictures of us on napkins and picked up stacks of brochures in every rest area and truck stop.

Ten years have passed since this last, wonderful trip. Ten years in which I've gotten married and had babies. I have made friends -- dear friends -- who never got to meet my dad. My children are growing tall and slim and strong and smart. So much time has passed. I still miss Dad. I can still see his thick fingers trace our route across the spread pages of the road atlas. I can here him wondering how soon we'll "hit the road." He'd tell me to "blaze on out of here," or "pedal the metal it."

"Happy trails," he'd say.

My daughter is sleeping in my bed, the comet of her emotion has landed her flat. She's sad that I'm leaving, missing me before I'm gone. I've left her a beaded barrette and the promise of a surprise from my journey. I'll be back soon, I say. But she has no sense of time. To her it seems like I'll be gone forever.

But I know how forever really feels.


Elizabeth said...


Happy Trails and, above all, safe travels.

Denise Emanuel Clemen said...

Sad. Forever.