A lost week.

The Canyons of China

It has been a lost week.

The best-laid plans (cue soundtrack of God laughing) included a trip to Virginia. Lots of time to visit with my daughter and my two sisters. Lots of time in between to finish a project that has hung over me for some time. Road time to think and ponder.

The plans did not include strep throat and bronchitis, barely functioning enough to have a couple of hours a night for what was likely strange and not-all-together conversation. Road time that somehow got me from place to place with no memory of what happened in between. Fever, wonderful, delirious, fever! untouched project. Hours in the doc in a box.

I am reasonably sure I delivered the books and furniture to my daughter. At least it’s not in the truck anymore.

And a new week begins next week while I try to figure out what happened to the last one. Ah well.

Fever and sickness have a few benefits. You notice the oddest things. Like how how much my sisters have come to look like my parents, one like my dad, one like my mom. Or how  no one in the doc in the box was like me – every skin color, every accent in the world in this place. It was quite beautiful. Particularly the children. But it reminded me of how isolated from diversity I am in Vermont, which has to be one of the whitest states in the union. I think I miss that diversity more than I realized.

I ate food I can’t get in my little corner of Vermont. Waffle House with its salty hash browns covered and chunked (that is with cheese and ham, for the uninitiated). I have no idea if it was the illness, which had me savoring the few things I could taste, or just because it was the taste of my past, but I practically swooned at each bite. My Mexican waitress was probably ready to call the police at the weirdo in the corner booth oohing and ahhing with each bite.   I ate Bojangles fast food breakfast. Faux Cajun goodness unavailable above the Mason Dixon line.

A different night, a different city. That was this trip. A different night, a different city. Dangerous for a man whose fresh batch of drugs were busy killing germs but never quite wrestled his brain from the clutches of fever.

I slept a lot. Pretty much every moment I wasn’t driving or talking to family. I slept on multiple sofas and multiple beds and a couple of rest stops. Once I fell asleep while the guy in NJ pumped my gas.

And each time I woke up there was that momentary “where am I” moment. Once or twice it ran for more than a moment.

I sniffed basil in my sister’s garden. Maybe it is because so much seemed to elude my feverish brain, but I can remember that smell. It swallowed me. I breathed it in the way most people savor roses in the garden.

I made it home. I vaguely remember the drive. It was pleasant enough. I had the truck instead of the convertible, so no convertible weather. But the truck has a huge sunroof and I put it and the windows down. It was almost as good as the convertible, but with a strange hollow sound in the back of the Trooper, which is essentially a greenhouse on wheels.

North of Maryland, it became windy. The Trooper, big square box that it is, was being pushed over the road like it was made of cardboard instead of steel. In another, less ill, more sensible time, I would have been wrestling the thing into submission. Yesterday though, I treated the wind like a dance partner. the back and forth of a four-lane tango, a strange smile on my face.

My hair was hopeless by the time I got home. My wife didn’t recognize me at first. She said it was the shirt. More likely it was the serial murderer hairstyle and glazed eyes.

Whatever. I was better by the time I got home. Not well, but better. I am better still today. I am reasonably sure by next week, when it’s time to be responsible again, most of my brain cells will have recovered from the fever.

It was not all bad. Discount the pain, and there was a strange peace in simply not being in control of my brain, and letting it think what it will, somehow watching myself and living as myself at the same time. It was OK to let go. To sleep without guilt. And to smell things so intensely. To mentally play with what’s in front of you, instead of thinking or worrying about it.

The week was lost. Nothing got done. Nothing I wanted anyway. But living a kaleidoscope week, dancing with the wind in a two-ton box on wheels, and being enveloped in basil – well that stuff doesn’t happen in real life, so it was a trade-off.

And not a bad one at that.

Be well. Travel wisely,


PS: The painting is called “The Canyons of China.” I picked it for this post because I felt like that tree hanging in mid-air. Madness and miracle all at once.

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