Thursday, July 15, 2010

Now What?


That’s exactly what I’ll be pondering the next few days, in a different place, in other towns, through mountains on highways leading north, on forest paths, in strange restaurants, and maybe even a used bookstore or two. As I’ve told a few people privately, it’s been many years since my wife and I have traveled beyond the grocery store. Our lives and responsibilities simply haven’t permitted it. They scarcely do now, but since my mother’s care is in expert, dependable hands, we’ve decided to wager a full tank of gas against what remains of our sanity. To put it another way, worn to a frazzle, we’re at long last contemplating the possibility of coming up for air. Beyond that, the future remains unsure, as life with this writer has always been, and apparently must be if he’s to go on playing the game.

Our son will be traveling with us. In fact, we’re going in his car. Our destination, roughly, is Port Angeles, Washington, and the Olympic Forest. The name Hurricane Ridge has come up several times lately. It’s been a long time since I’ve stood on a mountaintop, even one only a mile high. I’ve hiked at twice that altitude, gasped in the thin air, tasted snow and ash, inhaled the mad scent of wildflowers. And I’ve looked upward from the valley floor, through heat and dust and fumes, at jagged, inaccessible peaks.

I do the same each day, here at my desk.

Changes. I can feel them in my bones. So many of my own, now, dead and gone. Other names on familiar mailboxes. Dead friends. Rusted bedsprings. Old trees down.

How many reams of paper to say I just don’t know? How many books? How many portraits with mournful eyes? Time will tell.

We’ll be leaving soon. I might check in while we’re on the road. But if I don’t, you have my thanks wherever I go.


Update:
In the Forum: a hint of mechanical daylight.

24 comments:

Janice said...

Another adventure in your life with your wife and son to share it...how exciting William!!! I can't wait to hear about it when you get back or as you travel along. Have a safe and wonderful trip. You'll be missed by us all :)

Elisabeth said...

Travelling is contagious, William and disturbing. Just back from my own trip overseas and I feel such relief to be home and yet it was good to go. As much as I dreaded the leaving.

May you have a wonderful too. All those new experiences and your son behind the wheel. All the writing that will follow. Farewell.

Transcend Designs said...

Nothing better than a semi-long jaunt in the vehicle with family, especially in the Summer.

That's what memories are made of...

Have a great time,
we'll be here when you get back....

;)

Crissant said...

I would like to read some stories about it :)
Enjoy your trip!
I`ll see you when you get back!!!!

Anthony Duce said...

Travel does seem to be the time to think abut what is next, and what wants to be the same, knowing it will be different in some way. Enjoy the next adventure...

Nazia Mallick said...

Wish you a happy and safe journey William. I hope you enjoy your much deserved break. The view of mountains. Ah! nothing compares to the beauty of mountains.

Bring back joyful memories, happy moments, photographs if possible but above all bring back- YOU.

We'll be missing you.

Have a safe journey!

ALeks said...

That is great news William,I wish you all a happy journey filled with joy and loads of good,secondhand books,some one strong to carry them,:) good weather and health! Happy days and goodbye William!
Aleksandra
Greetings to all the trees you will meet on your way!!

awyn said...

You're going north today, I'm going south tomorrow, mountains in both directions. Will think of you passing through your Washington mountains as I'm sailing through the Vermont ones. :) (P.S. welcome back to Elizabeth as well). Have a safe trip William and do please tell us about it when you return!

rahina q.h. said...

sometimes i feel that the walk to the grocery store can teach more about life than traveling thousands of miles.
i sit now thousands of miles away and all i really needed to do was to look inside myself and check the truth of the stuff that i carry around with me. that includes the nostalgia, the dreams and the realities and combine the old stuff with the new and find a new me....the question is, when i return do i remain the same or what?
wishing you a safe journey from one traveller to another

Joseph Hutchison said...

Travel safe, amigo. I imagine you with your face stuck doglike out a cranked-down window, hair and beard alive with pleasure. Enjoy!

Alberto Oliver said...

I wish you a wonderful journey to where the surprises and blessings of the future lies, waiting for you to seize them.

Lots of joy,lots of peace, all the best William. =)

RUDHI - Chance said...

Coming back from our trip to Piemont in Italy I hope you have a similar good nice trip with your family!!

Ed Baker said...

and when you get
back
and after a nap
call me .... we'll 'do lunch'

by the time I walk up to the grocery-store
they've raised the prices!

Stickup Artist said...

Have a great trip William! Sounds long overdue. I hope you find your peace on the mountaintop.

Happy Trails!

-K- said...

Right now you're probably scribbling something down about Hurricane Ridge.

And if you're like me, you're swearing you'll never do it again.

all ways 11 o'clock said...

William - Fair winds and calm seas.

When life catches up with us a breather of sorts is so needed. I hope you and yours see wonderful things, that nature jumps out at you both all consuming. Wind down the windows and breathe it in.


~robert

isabelle said...

Oh I wish you and your family a wonderful adventure William.

For me I cannot imagine a day without the hills, without being up high on the moors. And so I hope the wind fills your lungs and tangles your hair and that you come back with some more of your beautiful words.

William Michaelian said...

Janice, the trip was both safe and wonderful. All but one or two drivers were remarkably well behaved. And on the way home, there were great stretches of empty open road — the perfect medicine for a restless soul.

Farewell, Elisabeth. And hello. Now my wife and son tell me we are due for a hike up Saddle Mountain, which, on a clear day, affords a view of the Pacific Ocean to the west and many of our friendly, familiar volcanoes to the east, Mt. Hood and Mt. Ranier among them. Meanwhile, our shoes cool on the front step....

Transcend, I’m glad you’re here. I’m just beginning to think that I am too. But I’m in no rush to make a decision.

Thanks, Crissant. I’m still under the magic spell of the mountains and trees, and the stories they tell....

The funny thing, Anthony, is that each time I tried to think, I could hear someone laughing. Always a good sign.

We made it, Nazia. But I’m not sure if I brought myself back, or my self brought me back. I believe they are in conference still, likely boring each other to death.

Aleksandra! The weather was perfect. Of course it always is, even when it’s inconvenient for us. But it was sunny and clear and calm and cool, so it was perfect for us too. And do you know, many trees of the trees there already knew your name? They sent their good wishes.....

I’ll do my best, Annie. The details will surface by and by. I hope your trip is a wonderful one.

Rahina, it’s true, any trip anywhere, whatever the distance, provides a chance to look inside. Sometimes, when I cross the street to look in our mailbox, I feel like a different person when I return.

Joe, you imagine with uncanny accuracy. In fact, my beard and hair still haven’t settled down....

And joy and peace to you, Alberto. Thanks for your good wishes.

Thank you, Rudhi! Someday I hope we can travel together. Your beautiful artwork is already on the cover of One Hand Clapping, so maybe we’ve already begun....

Good idea, Ed. We’ll meet and greet at 21 and hobnob in the alley.

Thanks, Stickup Artist! I found my place, so that’s a start.....

Kevin, would you believe it, I’ve scribbled nothing as yet. I even traveled without a pen. I did plenty of swearing, though. It felt good in the open air.

Robert, I must say, you’ve described our trip quite well. And the windows are still down.

Words, Isabelle. They grew on trees there, and were of another language. We saw visitors from all around the world. They all understood.

Momo Luna said...

Oh this is great William, travelling is so nice and so exciting and so scary also sometimes (i think) I laughed because of your comment above. About the swearing. I can see you walking down the road, so calm and content ánd swearing at times. ;-) It's a comforting image for me, isn't that strange?
I wish you a great trip with lots of good weather suitable, some good swearing in the open air, and lots of amazement and feeling new.
Sweet greetz!

William Michaelian said...

Yes, Monica, there’s nothing like a good round of swearing to recharge one’s emotional batteries and clear the vision....

Woman in a Window said...

"Changes. I can feel them in my bones. So many of my own, now, dead and gone."

You cause me both to shrug my shoulders and to deny this, and then to deeply wonder what might lie ahead for you/for me. I can't get rid of this feeling that you can't be much older than me, and yet there is a constant foreboding in your writing. But it doesn't present as a foreboding, really, just as a fact. A fact that there is an end and perhaps it is in sight.

I'm not sure if I ever want to arrive at that exactly.

But for now, even though this now is most likely over as I am here late (pesky time) I hope there was much awe and tenderness in your travels. Yes, awe and tenderness. That's enough to make any one day, or any one life, I suppose.

xo
erin

William Michaelian said...

The tenderness, Erin, was there, although I had not named it as such. Or the awe, which was also present. I wonder — can one exist without the other?

The foreboding — sometimes I’m sure there are things I know that I simply haven’t told myself — as if they would be too much of a leap, maybe; as if the freedom upon hearing would leave me even more a stranger than I am. And yet the knowledge must register somewhere. It must leave some trace. In my words. In my bones. In the thoughts and actions of others.

More than once, my mother said I was born old.

And just so you know, this is all said with a smile, and a twinkle in the eye.

Woman in a Window said...

A very young twinkle. (I'll add that for you.) I do think there is an intrinsic irony, those born old, live young somehow. Or at least, I'll claim that somewhat for myself and share with you.

Let the bones worry on what they know. Let us be led astray with tenderness and awe.

xo
erin

William Michaelian said...

That, Erin, is the best advice I’ve received in a long time.