In the early 2000s, smack-dab in the middle of the Intifada, our 9 year old daughter and I were invited to join a small group of women traveling to Israel. The idea was unnerving.
“I’ll ask my husband,” I responded (because I thought it to be the quickest and best way to nip a bad idea in the bud). But, no.
“Oh, yes! You must go,” he exclaimed. Dang.
“We could be killed!” I countered.
“You could be killed right here,” he said. “Do it anyway.”
So we went. It was a memorable, once in a lifetime opportunity to see Israel without crowds and get to know people who live every day with danger and heartache. The Professor was right to insist.
He’s insisting again.
Last winter I enrolled in a travel writers’ workshop in the Bay Area that is now less than one month off. Half a year ago, I didn’t give much thought to logistics and the Professor egged me on.
“Do it!” he said. “You’ve got to do it.”
He likes my writing and wants me to see if this hobby could ever become more. Retirement is on the distant horizon, getting larger every year. We planned on driving to the Bay Area together, visiting friends and family along the way. But last week he dropped out, citing too many obligations here at home. Double dang.
I looked into flying, but for some strange reason he wants me to drive. After ~37 years of marriage (I lose track. If that’s important, ask him – he keeps count of those things.) I’ve learned to respect his advice, if not always welcome it.
My “but I could be killed” line struck out again.
There are all kinds of reasons for not doing this one alone: the time, cost of gas (especially in California), and rumors of tweakers, predators, and miscreants hung on every milepost along my way. But I have to go. The cost of not doing it is far more than those.
Besides, I’ve been too long without a grand adventure.
It’s occurred to me that this trip’s a good opportunity – a nice skeleton – for a story I haven’t yet been able to tell because the door has been hidden. Every stop, planned and unplanned, could help unstick the narrative, unlock understanding.
There are things I write about that make me cry and I have no idea why. Home, usually. There’s no there there anymore, but I’m going back anyway.
The symbolism of driving there in Ruby, my “hello, sixties” birthday present, is not lost on me. Yes, this trip is my Yellow Brick Road of sorts, a quest that I’ve been unable to evade by chanting or clicking my heels.
Is there truly no place like home? I want answers that elude me.
Even if the Professor and I are the only ones who ever read this story, it’s been like a fire shut up in my bones for years.
I’ve promised the Professor I’ll blog every night, and Ruby syncs with my smart phone. I’ll be fine. If not, I could just as easily die in Idaho anyway.
Better out there somewhere.