A road sign pointed the way to America this morning; naturally, I followed where it pointed.
It led me through towering Illinois cornfields, and past a few houses, some very well decorated, to a dead end.
“I missed America,” I said. “Well, that metaphor sucks.”
Let’s back up a couple of days. I had the most delightful visit with Michelle, a Wisconsonite reader who generously opened her house to me and took me adventuring.
Even better than the adventuring were the conversations. She’s so like me in so many ways, and she’s been grappling with a lot of the same issues I have. She had a lot of great advice I’ll be mulling over, but the one key piece that I keep coming back to: Slow down. Don’t miss what’s right in front of your face.
I tried to take that to heart. My next right step, in what is a long process, was to enjoy the utopia that is New Harmony.
I had… mixed success. I had found a couple of Kymaerica sites (google it, it’s nuts) around Paris, Illinois, and while I’m still a bit befuddled, I’m digging it. This last historic (or alt-historic, anyway) site was installed right next to the Atheneum, and had a lot to do with words and language, topics I’m always keen on.
I think. Or it could have had something to do with a man from an aquatic people who lived in the Wabash river, who was spit up onto land only to become a great hero and warrior for our people. Maybe. (But I think it had more to do with the transience of words and how poorly they reflect the truth of history.)
I had a great chat with the woman at the Atheneum, Missy, who’d lived there for 30 years and reminded me of my hippy parents (she was wearing Birkenstocks with socks and a long denim dress and literally eating granola when I came in). I had dinner at the tavern, where I eavesdropped on the stage crew who were on dinner break from tech-ing “Around the World in 80 Days.” I walked the labyrinth (with only minimal cheating). I cheekily stuck my telephoto lens into the private backyard of the individual who insists on hoarding the footsteps of the Angel Gabriel to snap a photo of what I am SURE are angelic footprints.
Then, well before dark, I settled into a spot at the nearby campground to watch fireflies and my campfire spark. At 2am, while the temperature was still almost 80 degrees, the rain started pouring in through my open screen-covered windows. At 3am, I took the hint, gave up on sleep, and got moving again.
And I moved. And moved. The rain never stopped. My car threatened to — a Check Engine light came on and freaked me out, just 20 miles outside of America (a lovely mechanic in Cadiz gave me the all-clear) — but I just kept hauling, trying to find a comfy motel room for an early night.
I found E.T. Wickham’s statues outside of Palmyra before I found the room. They are as creepy and dilapidated and delightful as ever. (Many more pics on my instagram stream.) I also found road impediments galore: blinding rain, flooded roads, downed trees, and wandering cows (the storm took out their enclosure). Finally, I found a place to stop.
So for tomorrow: very little. I am two hours from another interview and Rock City, and there I shall squat. After that, I’m abandoning all my other stops in the south and running back north, away from this hurricane (hope everyone is staying safe!), and back to hopefully dryer land where I can slow down and breathe again.
or not. we’ll see.