The epic-travel year of 2019 is more than half over in numbers of trips taken—if not in miles to go. San Diego and the Bay Area; Grand Rapids, International Falls, St. Paul, Minnesota; Montreal, Quebec Canada; Sioux Falls, South Dakota. Done. The more exotic destinations (Samarkand, Uzbekistan and Dover, Delaware for example) still to go. Remember this was the year of ‘sentimental journeys’. So how am I doing so far, I ask myself?
First a check-in as to whether the thrill of the ‘road’ has dimmed? If the shine is off that point ahead where the tracks merge or the wheels meet the runway? If the excitement of sighting the next ‘Welcome to Someplace New’ sign has dropped a level? Perhaps? Well, honestly…yes. But not so very much. It’s more like how bipolar friends describe the effect of medications on their highs and lows; the mood swings are tamped down—the elation that makes you want to go skipping down the road singing the high notes goes by the wayside in order to avoid the doom and gloom of depression. So—ready for the good news—age has the same effect. It’s not really a bad thing…who needs misery …but if you’re an obsessive traveler you do miss that earlier ecstasy of experiences like first sightings of the Sahara Desert or the Ganges!
But my 2019 travel is dedicated to family, friends, and memories as much as places. And here are moments to remember (wasn’t that a song back in the day…). Champagne at the top of Black Mountain with my two fine sons; slothing while “Killing Eve” with Teresa in the Bay; the sheer pleasure of friendships discovered, renewed, enjoyed in Minnesota; the sense of safety and tradition in lazy days with Robert and Marsha (and the burning-of-the-journals ritual up in the north woods); testing the crepes of Montreal with Patricia; and now sitting here writing in the little house on Van Eps Street in Sioux Falls, where I’ve been coming since I was a year old, while my cousin busies about the kitchen making the chicken and dumpling recipe from our Swedish Grandma Strom (Floren). Doesn’t sound like a bad few months’ work does it?
I’ve posted extensively about California, Minnesota and Montreal/Quebec City visits. Next up a photo album of South Dakota. Now however I am adding a small piece about friendship, the long-distance kind, because that’s part of what this summer’s travel has been about and will continue to commemorate. I always worry about sentimentality whenever I’m writing—a style I generally dislike in all writing (and art of any genre). But I ask for your patience as, in these pages about friendship, I veer a ways onto that mushily-trodden ground.
I’ve mentioned how pleasing it was to meet up with art friend Jordan in San Diego and lapse into conversation as easily as if it hadn’t been several years since our last meeting. Picking up on our semi- or total obsessions with dance and travel and moving right back into the competition of who gets to the most countries. We’re almost tied—and given that Jordan’s a youngish (sort of) guy competing with this proverbial ‘little old lady in tennis shoes,’ I think I’m doing quite well.
Next up—two fine Minnesota friendships. Pat from International Falls and I went through most of high school together. Friends but not friend-friends, as in besties and close and all of that. There was a professional/town versus lumberjack/farm social divide between families (and yes, that is as true in villages as in cities, and in the US as the UK). But with only 20-25 kids per class and with us being relatively bright and sensible young women, we were certainly friendly classmates. Then we all went away—and sixty years later Pat and I reconnected at a high school reunion. And—thank you Mark Zuckerberg—we’ve been able to explore our lives and interests over the last couple of years. So it was with pleasant anticipation I drove up to the Falls and, a few yards from the Canadian border, spent a bright northern June morning chatting, drinking coffee and eating scones with my old/new friend Pat. As in the coffee with Jordan, comfortable, pleasant, interesting—plus a blend of previously shared history, a fifty year void, and an unexpected compatibility.
Down to St. Paul, hanging out with a friend-friend with whom I’ve never lost touch—nor do I ever plan to… We refer to each other as Marge and Other Marge. Our friendship began in post-McGovern election days when we went to work for a mutual pal on the gubernatorial (or was it Senate) campaign of Roberto Mondragon. Since we were ‘…so much younger then…(I’m older than that now) our camaraderie extended to surviving parent/child/boyfriend/husband interactions and issues. Most friendships have one foundation more important than the others—based in an experience or a place, a trauma or need, shared interest or mission. Other Marge and I have history in all of the above, but the political mishmash of the world is at the bottom of ours. We don’t see each other so often, perhaps once a year, we only talk occasionally, and as Other Marge doesn’t indulge in social media we don’t interact on a daily political cartoon/puppy pictures basis. But how reassuring it is to connect seamlessly when we do. And who better to talk and scream and shout politics with…
There…my ode to friendship completed until I visit another of these friend-friends in Dover this fall. At this point in my life I am not so interested in making new friends…not really enough time to develop the welcoming familiarity that doesn’t require a recounting of personal history nor an explanation or apology for my goods and bads. Besides there’s no time in my schedule for new relationships as I continue to visit the oldies/besties/familiars in the next few years.
I’ll be back with ‘Tales of Sioux Falls’ before the fall wedding and Silk Route adventures begin.