Since she’d been in London this fall, we drove Eleanor and all her stuff back to Grinnell over the weekend (rather than flying her back as usual, this time of year). It’s more than 1200 miles round-trip, so we left on Friday morning, hoping to move her in on Saturday morning and make it back home in one long day. Weather interfered, though–as it tends to, in January–and we ended up carrying her stuff into the dorm during a snowstorm and then driving across Iowa and Illinois with the same storm. We got to Hobart, Indiana after dark and stopped for the night at Ron’s brother’s house. Then we drove the rest of the way back home in the right-hand lanes of the highways on Sunday, because the passing lanes were full of blowing snow, deep in spots.
Ron had offered to make the trip without me, but Walker had weekend plans and I was afraid I’d spend most of two days worrying, like the speaker in this poem by Todd Davis:
My wife and I sit on an aspen that fell
during last February’s ice storm, its bulk
blocking the trail that snakes around the curve
of the mountain’s back. No ice storms this year,
and today the blue of late January slides
around the bowl of the sky. We can’t see
beyond, but we know the darkness of space
glitters like ice on the ends of branches,
and like ice, the weight of its darkness
may topple us, bar the path
we had hoped to take.
So we took that path. Now we are both exhausted and not at all caught up for the week ahead, but I feel a sense of satisfaction that I did not let my fear of winter weather keep me at home, shaking. In fact, I got a good dose of desensitization for my fear of falling on ice, since every time we stopped the car, I had to get out and slide over parking lots covered with wind-frozen slush.
We were listening to an audiobook of Kerouac’s On The Road, with its longing and planning for one place while stuck in another, and then the longing for a newer place before the characters had even half gotten to the place they’d thought they wanted to be. Listening to the stories of Dean traveling halfway across the country to say one heartfelt-but–largely-pointless thing to Sal made me feel less like we were just spinning our wheels.
I’ve been frozen with fear of the frozen for so long that I’d almost forgotten how freeing it can be to go out despite the “weight of its darkness” and come home untoppled. I may not be ready to face tomorrow morning, but I’m more prepared to face the glittering malice of another winter morning, after traveling so far to end up where I started.