Friday, February 20, 2009

It’s the end of the world as we know it

Walking through the door

After a three-week visit in the north country, I’m heading back south. I’m at Boston Logan right now, the late-afternoon sun slanting across my shoulders, with a three-hour wait for my flight. I definitely overestimated the time I needed to get through Boston on my bus. Still, one of the things I’ve always loved about travel is the waiting time in airports and train stations, the time that allows you to collect your thoughts, the waiting with no place to be other than here. That goes to show that I am a true traveler, not one of these dilettantes, and that long-distance travel is my true vocation. I’m never happier than when moving from one place to another.

The light here is different than in the south. Already, since seven o’clock this morning, I’ve traversed many lines of latitude and the sun is noticeably higher in the sky, even later in the afternoon. One forgets about these things in the south, how the light feels different farther north. It always cuts low, across the shoulders, unless it's July. My subconscious is continually aware of the angle of the sun, how my proximity to it is lessened.

There are other things one forgets. Like the preponderance of Subarus. I’ve been looking for a new car on eBay, and in Chattanooga there are an overwhelming quantity of crappy, American-made eight-cylinder SUVs. When everyone knows that the only car that’s worth anything is an AWD Subaru. In Maine you realize immediately how useless those god-awful vehicles are.

I miss the snow. It’s gone from the ground here, even as far north as Boston. I had forgotten that, too, the continual ice barrier that surrounds every road in Maine, the sheen and glisten of all of that whiteness. Yesterday, I went on my longest snowshoe yet--an hour and a half for almost two miles, with probably a half-mile of fresh path-cutting. I begin to understand how one could have 200 words for the stuff, as the Inuits are alleged to. Yesterday it was perfect for snowshoes, crispy on the top, but with enough heft underneath that I didn’t sink below my knees.

Shadow, the wolf-dog, and I had a long talk last night, but I’m not sure he understands my departure. How can he? I disappear and reappear in his life like a dream. Or a nightmare. Would he choose to have me in his life if he could? Even if he never sees me again? I don’t know. Maybe I need a dog of my own. One that can handle the tropics. Maybe I just need a direction in which to travel, someplace to go that when I get there I’ll know I’ve arrived. Maybe then I’d stop being only happy in waiting rooms.

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