I pulled into the parking lane, where the parking meters were all covered with “No Parking” bags…. Ooops. I wasn’t parking anyway. I was firing off a text message to a local friend:
“Hey…So… I’m in your town…and have no idea what I’m doing or where I’m going. Where’s this doughnut supposed to be?”
Within seconds my phone was ringing
Me: “Well, hello.”
Her: “I love you so much! You drove all the way down here just for a doughnut! But, I guess since you run so much you can afford to drive around and eat doughnuts!”
Yesterday I toyed with the idea of driving about an hour and a half south of my home to one of the largest cities in my state…just to buy a doughnut. Yes. One doughnut. When I approached the idea to my Husband he stared at me hard and I thought, “is this really the first crazy idea he’s going to bulk at? Really? Because surely I’ve come up with weirder…Haven’t I? Surely. Surely I have.” Instead, that intense look he gave me was because I said “one doughnut”.
“You’re going to be buying more, right? Like, for example, to bring home and share? With your husband?”
I thought about it a moment… I really hadn’t put that much thought into it, and was already considering that this was a stupid idea and I should just figure something else to do with my day.
“I suppose I could if I must…” I hedged. Then I sent a message to a friend that lives in that town: “I’m coming down your way! Where do I buy one of those doughnuts!? You know? The bourbon-ball one?”
This morning I didn’t pause long enough to think about it. I hurried through breakfast, took the pup for a quick jog around the block – at least until he didn’t want to run anymore, and then I grabbed the essentials for an unplanned adventure with no more than a rough destination in mind.
My friend gave me a quick run-down of where a location of the mythic doughnut was supposed to be. She even laughed as she told me, “You’ll likely see some characters in that spot too…you’re right in the middle of everything there.” I told her, “If you weren’t aware that this is the main drag through the center of town, you’d know it by the traffic for sure.”
I entered the gas station…haha, yes. The mythic “limited time only, made special for the Derby, bourbon-ball doughnut” is sold out of a gas station chain. I plucked four of those, and then two of their cookie-and-creme doughnuts.
Now. Lunch? My friend recommended a sweet-sounding riverside seafood place across the river in a different state. It was a beautifully sunny day, not too warm, but getting there, and the sky was brilliant blue. Granted, the river is ugly as fuck, but it’s better than most views I would have for lunch…why not? I texted my friend that the “item was procured” and then asked “why don’t you join me for lunch?” She agreed and gave me a quick run down of directions.
Listen. The lunch spot was delicious. And the view was good. And seating outside was so nice. But there was no doubt that I was sitting in the mid-west of the U.S. Country accents so thick you couldn’t tell if they were talking or just humming; a guy complaining about his parole time requiring him to get a real job with real pay-stubs, rather than one that would pay under the table and he could smoke pot on; a middle-aged man tossing pieces of his lunch to the ducks on the patio; and the flagrant use of the endearment “Honey” no matter who was addressing who. It was fun! The food was good too. Highly recommended. Really.
“Where are you heading to now?” She asked as our waiter endlessly filled our drinks, even though we already paid the bills.
“I dunno. I was reading the signs on the way down here… I suppose I could just go all the way to Nashville.”
“Yeah! You could meet up with [Another friend of ours]. Do a tour of friends!”
“Hey, yeah! But…Nah. I did see signs for something called the “Falls of the Ohio”? I thought I’d head that way…do some sight-seeing.”
Then I got a great history lesson. The town we were sitting in was the actual starting point of the Lewis and Clark expedition.
“St. Louis gets all the hype and attention, but it was really here. Clark’s family lived here…his sister lived over in Louisville, and his brother’s home was just up the road here…. They actually met there.
Meriwether Lewis committed suicide after they returned. I didn’t know that until my daughter got heavy into the history of those two and we did all this research. Makes you wonder, what did they experience out there in the wilds of the uncharted West?….”
We parted ways, and I followed the signs along the river toward the “Falls of the Ohio.” For anyone interested, there’s a seriously awesome bike path along here. I pulled off at what seemed like the right spot, but was clearly just the stoppage point for all the drug-addicted people to hike down and fish while they got high. I wore sandals. I had to step carefully to avoid broken glass, bright yellow-colored wet mud, and a couple of needles. This was neat…but it was also vile…in a way that shocks you into wanting to take up the charge of “save the Earth” and “Recycle, Reuse” and even further, “Stop dumping trash and shit into our waterways, Holy Fuck!”. I’m big in photography, so I tried to get a couple good shots here, but gave up and hiked back up to my car.
A little farther down the line and I found the education center. Now, this was more like what I expected.
I went to school for Geology. I spent time in the mountains of Montana at the “Mother’s Day Site” digging up dinosaur bones. There’s a foot that I found actually on display in a museum. I’m big into (though, not remotely as big into as my Husband, who did all these things with me – and more…sans the Geology background) fossils and rocks. There are some serious fossils along this area.
I wandered and looked at everything I could before deciding I should move on to heading home. I mean, I figured I should go home….but I didn’t really want to. The gift shop lady started chatting with me and I mentioned that I had just been given a “Crash course” in the history of the area with Lewis and Clark. She sparked to life almost immediately. Telling me about the falls, and how they were once a natural feature that represented the only obstacle to travelers. They’ve since been removed, by erosion and growth along the waterway, but there are locks there now, which represent the only way through. Now it’s a dam, used to generate power. She gave me a pamphlete…and drew a map to take me to the home of Clark’s brother, George Clark, and the site that everything started from.
So I went there.
A small snafu of not understanding the roadways in that spot meant that I did a glorified box and ended up where I started, but I figured it out and headed out on this task. A few moments later (If I had a bike I could have just taken the bike path straight there, I guess) I had navigated the small town grid and was back along the river and at the homestead. There wasn’t really a lot more to it, than an old cabin and a boat dock. I snapped a few photos and got swarmed by a half-billion bees!
Ok. Not a half-billion. Twelve. Like, twelve bees. They were mating and fighting and buzzing, and getting in my hair… and I think they count about 100x per each one on account of the stingers. Stop judging me.
I won’t lie. I toyed with the idea of driving to St Louis. It’s only a couple hours away to the west… I haven’t been there since I was a kid. In the end I opted just to drive home. After all, despite things in life that are driving me to realize that I’ve thought about “running away” more as an adult that I ever did as a child… I still have things to do. I have a battle to win. Life to get on with and a Husband and dog to love. Oh, yeah, and a hallway to finish painting….I mean start… start painting… yeah.
My drive home had me contemplating Meriwether Lewis. His big adventure over with, and back home where things are normal but he’s no longer the man that he was when he started. Sure, its completely likely that he saw some heavy shit or experienced something that could’ve given him a case of what we now classify as PTS (Post-traumatic stress). Who knows? Maybe he had nightmares. Maybe he did things he couldn’t live with. Maybe they had to eat the dog. Life was hard at the best of circumstances in that time, going out into the uncharted for years and being presumed dead for that time was a helluva task.
But I can’t help but wonder if he came home and was so profoundly changed by it. Maybe going from being something and knowing your place, to coming back and not knowing how you belong anymore is the hardest part. I think of it like the end of “Cast Away” starring Tom Hanks. When he finally gets rescued and he’s at a party and everything he had to work so hard for in order to survive is just laid out in plenty before him, and he can’t wrap his brain around it anymore…
The overwhelming ease of normalcy.
Maybe that’s what got M. Lewis. That post-travel experience high…followed by that drop as you settle back into accepting your place in normal life. Only for M. Lewis, it was so much greater a drop than just coming home from a great trip to OBX… It’s going from experience, and excitement, and wonder back into day-to-day grind. You go from the opportunity to introduce yourself as whatever you wish you were, back to settling for what you’ve managed to achieve so far.
No. It’s heartbreaking.
How we settle into this.
I’m sad for how I’ve settled. How my dreams have been blown…shrunk to dust and scattered to the ether because someone else with more power and control than me told me that I wasn’t important enough to earn those dreams…let alone hold them in private as goals I’d like to achieve with my life. I grieve with a Broken. Heart. This fucked up situation where I once wanted to be something, and set out to it…and someone else was allowed to stomp on those dreams.
Never put down anyone’s dreams. They are more fragile and as rare as a full sand dollar on the beach. It takes so much hope to make a dream. And it take such intense strength for someone to share their dreams with someone else. God! Even the amount of guts it takes to dive into the pursuit of a dream!
Please, please, please. Be careful with it when someone opens up and shares a dream with you.
For me? I’m coming up with new dreams.
It’s slow. It’s hard. I’m still hurt over the destruction of my dreams before. But it’s okay. Because I learned. Hard, but I did. And I’ve been given a chance to reflect on nothing but myself, where I am, and where I want to be. I have no answers for this, but I’m getting there.
Cheers, you beautiful dreamers.
Thanks for reading.