Friday, October 19, 2007

Burned Over District

There is no experience more American and more unambiguous than the road.

Somewhere in Ohio today, traveling for work, I stopped for breakfast at a Cracker Barrel. I had stopped not only because I was hungry—no dinner last night because I was over thirty hours without more than two hours sleep—but because Carol King’s “You’re So Far Away” had come on the radio and caught me unaware and tearing up. I will blame low blood sugar but the truth is the last five weeks have been a roller coaster of emotional blows and intense intellectual engagement in work and I suspect I’m just vulnerable.

I ordered unsweetened ice tea from a skinny white girl with a hoarse voice who treated me with brusque good will."You ready to order, sister?” she asked. As I was leaving she asked me if I wanted ice tea to go. “You take care, sister,” she said, as if I had stumbled out of the freeways of central Ohio into a land of old time Methodists. A place where religion ran just under the surface, like the Burned Over District of the 1800's. I am not a religious person, but I was obscurely comforted by that sister.

I am on the road again. But I took this assignment because it would allow me to check on my mother and I managed to stop long enough in Cleveland to see her. She was vastly changed from only a week before. The nursing home was already checking on it and they got back the lab results that said she has a UTI, a urinary tract infection. The nurse thinks that explains her increased confusion and over-all change. I hope so. I can't be here long enough to find out but other family members are coming to check on her. On the road.

I know the road is a place that calls a lot of people. I am afraid it has few calls for me. I am missing home. I'll be there Sunday night.

You take care, sister. Or brother.


Blogger Amy said...

I love the road, but I love home more. Am thinking of you during these amazing October days, and wishing you and your mother well.

October 20, 2007 9:58 AM  
Blogger Haddayr said...

Well, we're even now because your post brought tears to _my_ eyes.

October 20, 2007 1:57 PM  
Blogger Greg van Eekhout said...

I love the road sometimes. Sometimes it's healing and exhilarating. But, yeah, sometimes it's very lonely, and the small and peculiar kindnesses of strangers can mean a lot.

Wishing the best for you and your mother.

October 20, 2007 11:42 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

^^ nice blog!! ^@^

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March 24, 2009 2:43 AM  

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