The last essay I wrote for Daily Passionator
ended with the question:
What yes are you living?
The time when I was silent here - in almost
week daily emails to you, I was living one
of my Yeses - and this essay includes what
might not appear like a Yes and yet, most
definitely - is a Yes.
Here's what I mean.
The prairie spread in front of us like God's
tablecloth, more vast than my mind could grasp.
Samuel thought we would fall off the edge of
it and be flung into outer space.
Katherine, Emma and I sat on a comforter I
spread out alongside I-90, beside our disabled
car and cried. Katherine and I allowed gasping
sobs to be released from our bellies and our
shoulders while Emma fell onto her back saying,
"I don't even know why I am crying."
Samuel's seemingly endless chattering was silenced,
his head bowed as if in prayer, as the three women
in his life surrendered to the unknowing
of this moment.
We had to walk into small spots of connectivity to
call Triple A to beg for relief and assistance. We
would lose it, stand up, move and reconnect to
a pocket of connection. Katherine extended her arm
onto my back to keep the "carrots" on her cell
I made one other phone call, to my long-time friend,
Mel, whose hug I longed for at the end of this
trip perhaps more than any other.
I had to try twice to leave a message, attempting
unsuccessfully not to cry as I left my voice
impression. I only hoped she would listen to it.
We didn't know then what was wrong with the car, but it
Later that night we huddled together, the four
of us, in a motel room in Chamberlain, South Dakota,
and shared stories, feelings, hopes. Katherine cried as
she said she had loved the moments on the prairie,
just abhored the outcome.
The next night I watched the sunset over the prairie,
knowing I wouldn't be receiving that hug from Mel or
any of the other friends I had been planning to see.
Transmission failure, $3,000, an expense for which
I had not bargained. The car had been fully inspected
and received an "All's clear!" before we left home.
Unfortunately that "All's clear" didn't change the
facts of what happened.
I started this trip with a variety of intentions,
many of which were met. We created some incredible
memories, saw some sights I had only imagined, made
new friends, saw some long-time
Our love and appreciation for each other deepened.
We learned, first hand, about interdependence and
receiving as people who were strangers became friends
through opening their homes to us. Cornell, our final
couchsurfing host, picked us up from Chamberlain
(130 miles from Sioux Falls, where he lives) and
let us stay with him until we figured out
precisely what we were going to do.
He entertained us, fed us, worried about us.
Julie loaned us her GPS. We all called him Pete
and he became an integral part of our adventure.
Each stranger we met seemed to give us some sort
of gift and we began to give gifts, too, in
our own way.
That's what couchsurfing is meant to be, I suppose.
My longing for the road has intensified. This particular
trip was years in the dreaming, making, which is perhaps
what makes its sudden ending that much more difficult for me.
It feels similar to Marlena's stillbirth, actually. I
realized in a pacing, post-midnight texting session
she was conceived almost exactly 20 years ago. No
accidents, I remembered. No accidents.
So now, instead of traveling any further East, I am
back in Bakersfield and writing, putting all of
this into words.
I am reading Rilke's Duino Elegies and more Anne
Morrow Lindbergh (and a smattering of her daughter
Reeve's work.) The kids and I are a bit lost in
being spread out about the house. Sam and I are
planning to build a wishing well together.
We watched a how-to video last night, he was
We are planning, now, to visit Smith and
the schools in that area in November sometime,
but we will be flying - because we have limited
time. We plan to go back to Portland, Oregon
For those of you who I didn't get to see and
laugh and hug and reminisce together create new stories,
I am more optimistic now than I was as we sat on the
prairie beside our disabled car. I know we will finish
this trip later, I know I am meant to write about
these lessons, these "Yeses that don't look like Yeses."
For the tremendous couchsurfing hosts, you were each
one a blessing beyond what you may know.
I trust we will see each other soon.
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This essay was originally published in Daily Passion Activator, Why not Subscribe today? It's free.