Monday, July 30, 2012


photo thanks to RWLinder from

It took forever to get out of Colorado, but too quickly the mountains were gone from my rear-view and that was the last time I knew solid what was west. The night before, we ran errands at the end of the day and I saw the sun set in Colorado for the last time in I don't know how long. The foothills were cold and planetary, blue under the full moon and a starry starry sky. I miss the grand expanses of the prairie with a sky-arching ache. The prairie was the one thing always gave me the space I needed. I watched the hills and the fields go dark and didn't know what to feel. I still don't.

We crossed into Kansas, whose small towns are the boyhood home of everybody you never heard of. Forgotten writers, never-mooned astronauts, and a Chrysler or a Carnegie, memory fails. We drove forever. We never stopped driving. I felt empty inside, task-driven, no thoughts to comfort me mile after mile. I didn't know what prayers to say, I said none, except the one the heart speaks straight to blue skies.

Kansas never ended but when it did there was Missouri. So many signs advertising Jesus like Warner's Old Time Cure. Like a panacea, but if it were that simple we'd all know by now. So many porn shops and adult stores and live nude girls, more than I see driving through all of Denver. "The Lion's Den Adult Store" and in front of them, signs claiming Porn Destroys Jesus Heals, except they'd thought of a synonym for destroy that rhymes with heals and I can't remember it now. And guns & ammo stores. Guns, girls, religion, American as apple pie.

It was supposed to take fifteen hours to get to St. Louis. It took eighteen. We checked into a smoking motel, only room available, outside the city proper at just after midnight, local time. I wasn't happy, but I didn't miss anything, my emotions stifled by road-drunkenness and the path ahead. Noah slept about five hours and left before me. At 6:30 in the morning, I hauled two girls, three bags and three pillows down to a car full of bees and we drove straight through St. Louis. The city was a beautiful reflection in my mirror as I crossed the Mississippi River and didn't know it, which is something out of a book I already wrote. After St. Louis there would be the awful fringed-and-glittered Nashville, the hours of rain, the semis crashed on the highway and the unexpected stay in a dank and dirty motel room, alone with the girls and no hot water in depressing Rockville, Tennessee. The rain would follow us all the way to our new home, which is where I sit now, where I've been sitting for two weeks and I'm unable to tell you about it yet, because I don't know what's happened and I'm still not sure where I am.

What I can tell you is that while I was writing this, a honey-thick female voice wafted into my windows, blown in on the wind down from my neighbor's porch, and I set aside my computer and walked through the grass to the place where people were gathered, five or six on guitar and one man on a harmonica, and they sang sweet and forlorn tunes while the green hills of Carolina undulated like vibrato behind them and the moon rose and cast us all in golden, bee-hewn light.

I can tell you about leaving St. Louis before rush hour on a Thursday morning with both of my daughters sleeping lightly like fairies a thousand miles from home. The arch was so beautiful, gleaming silver like the river itself had surged up over the city and froze there, in perfect symmetry with the orbit of stars.

Friday, July 27, 2012

July 27th, 2012

Woke up too early with Indy's eyes shining up at me, blinking like soft bats in the dawn. She hasn't slept a night in her own bed since her dad left. They fight over his pillow and one or the other takes it to bed every night, robbing it from me, the lonely wife. Rolled over and sent a text begging off an invitation for a short hike to a swim hole. Didn't have a backpack or the energy. Fell back asleep.

Later, after the mist had burned off, the thought of hot coffee in the stovetop espresso pot got me out of bed. The girls had carried all their blankets and pillows to the living room. My footsteps on the hardwood floors were their cue to start fighting. Fighting before coffee is strictly forbidden. Somehow it happens anyway. The girls are relentless, they miss their dad, they are in a strange land and overwhelmed. Relentless needs, relentless boredom, relentless fighting but deeply felt kisses and snuggles at night. If I spend too much time alone in the house with them, I won't make it. I know this. 66 days of 75 alone to go. I texted again, taking back what I'd turned down. Plans changed, we cancelled the hike. I brewed another pot of coffee over ice this time and drove a van full of children and new friends up to the lake where the retired folks with salted caramel skin dangled in floaties and complained about the cold spots.

We ate peanut butter and jellies and coconut brownies. We got sunburned and nibbled by fish. The girls fought and didn't share and embarrassed me. When I flat out told them this, they replied that I was embarrassing them. Both things were true. Authority is something I never wanted and I never did learn to wear it right. I wield it well only over myself, and even then, there are mishaps. I stay up too late, blow my budget on Thai food. I turn down invitations I should keep, but look, it all comes out all right.

We splashed and sunned and floated until the clouds rolled in, when we packed it up and drove away. By now, I've learned to find my way home.

Tuesday, July 17, 2012

Hearts in Dixie

I love you guys and I miss you so much.

It's like the pacific northwest here. Our neighbors called it a rainforest and we laughed.

But they weren't joking.

I can't wait to tell you everything (and catch up on your blogs, hot damn, do I miss them!) but I have no perspective on my own life right now, as well as no internet connection. Turns out things like cable companies run slow here in Transylvania County. Transylvania, you heard me right.

I'll be 'round in a couple weeks.

Until then, all my love from Dixie.



Tuesday, July 10, 2012

Have Bees Will Travel

The three girl cousins roamed the yard like fireflies in the dying light. We said goodbye. I cried myself to sleep at four in the morning and woke up seven hours later with my cheeks newly wet. We discovered Indy, who wants to change her name to Tinkerbell, had left her teddy bear at my parent's house. The teddy bear was a special gift for the road trip so we drove back to Denver to get it. The rain had passed. I stopped crying for a little while and the sky looked like this. No two things make beauty like prairie and storm. After hours of crying so vigorously that my eyes swelled like I'd been hit with a fist, I got a terrible case of the giggles. We watched TV in the dusk and after all those tearful goodbyes, the manufactured drama was hilarious. The polygamists on the television kissed their stepsons and had emotional breakdowns on live TV and plotted to kill their brothers and I laughed through it all. The wisdom of my body, seeking balance. 

Tomorrow night we'll sleep in St. Louis.
The bees will be in the back seat, screened and
draped in tulle like thirteen thousand little brides.

Saturday, July 7, 2012

Farewell Tour

There was a farmer's market in the Highlands with a bouncing castle 
and the best veggie quesadillas I've ever had, that
they only sell at farmer's markets, that I've only found
twice in all these years and both times by accident. 
Everyone was out on bikes, with dogs,
with kids paddling along on skateboards like canoes. Everyone
was who I want to be when I make a million dollars and 
finally learn to run and everyone lived where 
I want to live and knew
what to do with their patios.
Denver was jogging and biking and eating ice cream, buying
farm fresh vegetables, going to the arts festival,
shopping at the Tattered Cover and Twist & Shout. The kids
hit a pinata in the park and we sat outside Red Mango on
Colfax and it began to pour. I drove from the Highlands
to Congress Park to Cherry Creek to Lodo and I 
remembered everything and I
won't forget these streets and I
am going to miss you, Denver.

Three days to go and before I forget to tell you again: we are taking the bees.

Thursday, July 5, 2012

Fourth of July

Because of the statewide ban, we bought no fireworks.

We left my sister's house at the fullest bloom of dusk. Got in the car and we drove, drove on the highway, drove on a summer night with the windows down. That kind of free-fall driving that can cure your ailments or nurse them into heart sickness, depending which you choose. Around us, in every direction, the few professional displays that hadn't been cancelled exploded flowers in the night sky. The wind whipped my hair and we passed the glittering city. The city where my parents took me to art museums and theater in the park, to the capitol building and the Denver Mint, when I was a child. The city we cruised through as teenagers, went the wrong way down one way streets and screamed, ate quesadillas at the Pavilions, eased each others heart aches, made each other laugh to tears. The hotel where I stayed with my husband for one of our anniversaries, the pubs and microbreweries we visit in the fall, for pumpkin beer and sausages with spicy relish and brown bread. Past the bookstores, the place where we saw Wicked and Cyrano and Dracula and Les Mis, the stadium where we watched the Broncos beat the Titans empty and blazing in the night. Past the museums where we took our own children, the Six Flags they beg to visit again and again. The place where the St. Mark's coffee used to be, where at nineteen I licked whipped cream off a mocha and pretended to study on a night near Halloween, the fancy restaurant we pretended we could afford at twenty-one, the Paramount where I saw Tori Amos and had the most spiritual experience of my life at twenty-six, the beautiful Mayan, the seedy Bluebird where we made the mistake of going to a show that wasn't twenty-one and over and left, feeling old, annoyed by versions of our former selves. The Ogden, where we saw the Decemberists and walked back to our car in temperatures plummeting below zero, my hand clutched in my husband's against the cold, the busy city for just this once silent and still on a frozen night.

Goodbye, city.

We'd driven down to Denver on a brutally ugly afternoon. The smoke from the wildfires covered the city and everything was yellow. Yellow sky, yellow air, parched grass yellow in the haze. Like the apocalypse without any of the glamour, like living inside a decaying mouth. The sun a red iris in an angry open eye, glowering a sickly tint onto the pavement. Now we drove in the hot wind with the windows all down and the haze began to clear. This is how it's always been. For one fleeting moment, two dark gray clouds of smoke parted open like a blackened nut and the almost-full moon shined through. It was orange, it was sherbet, it was soft tangerine.

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