…& virginia, part 2

14 08 2008

in the morning (so we’re now at 9 july) i was awake long before everybody else & let myself out, back door, porch-screen, bungee-latch on the fence between the yards, & wandered up the lane, because in blacksburg lanes have “up”s—“up” is topographical, into the mountains, & if you follow them far enough you usually find flowered meadows, chickens in cobbled-together fenced henyards, & trailers with windchimes overgrown with berry bushes, morning glories, seed-heavy grasses, & laurels. i found one where the road ended on a ridge, one T leading to a family graveyard, the other another driveway & a huge tree where a 2-person porch swing had been rigged under a flat branch to swing out over a fast slope & a view of a deep, wooded valley. breakfast was rain-glittered blackberries from the sunny side interspersed with honeysuckle washed pale inside from the extra water. i saw horses, greeted llamas, walked past thistles taller than my head, and am still trying to find the language to explain to people why that’s incontestability “home.” “it was just a street with some houses,” i said to cael a few days later, in a cheerful lunch-hour suburban starbucks up in centreville where we met for chai and chocolate, “but it was thomas lane,” which is a literary reference he & about 8 other people i know, all but one of whom read the book because i told them to, would recognize. “what are you doing up here,” he asked in reply; “how did you get out of underhill?” i’m not entirely sure yet that i have; i can still smell it on the queen anne’s lace, which doesn’t have a scent per se, and see it in the clouds kicked up by the same mountain range even this far north.

i couldn’t stay in faerie then & miss my lunch date with my mentor, so i headed into town (with time enough to sip coffee at bollo’s just to make sure i really knew what “home” felt like in all its chalk and red-brick textures)–
–wandered a bit of campus with jules_11, & then met up with paul, who took me to gillie’s for lunch with aileen (completing my tour of as many of my favorite restaurants as could possibly be hit in one 24-hour stint in town!), praised me up one side and down the other for still not having dropped out (or set anything, anyplace, or anyone on fire), reminded me again what i like about my field—and what it’s like to be really liked professionally—caught me up on local colleagues’ successes, bragged about his kids, introduced me to departmental new additions, & made me feel all teary and adored.

he then made me laugh for several days by describing an uncomfortable scene wherein he was introduced by one of our mutual acquaintances to another in terms that i promised to blog (and for which, unsurprisingly, lolcats has a linkable image handy for the visual learners): “i could feel myself inching backwards every time they spoke like a cat backing away from a hairball.”

getting out of the lovefest of lunch was exactly the opposite, and included several iterations of hugging & continuing to shout messages of goodwill and scraps of story down the sidewalk as we tried to go about our day in separate ways, but ultimately i had to get on the road so that i could be in lexington in time for another coffee—iced, this time, & with a summer rainstorm as accompaniment—with my dear friend mikel, who had moved away to wisconsin without telling me but just happened to be teaching the last week of a summer program right then, right there on my drive through, & so we spent a lovely hour or two touring the town & campuses, delving into underground wine-and-cigar shops, nattering about best paintings in school libraries, and talking at length about lake geographies, grad programs, his bands, european tours, students, teaching, office hours under street lamps, his new house his adorable wife was already in madison painting, & whatever else came to mind as we wandered. here’s the rain coming in, seen from a high spot on W&L’s campus: mikel is so amazingly like an alternate dimension version of my brother–he does slightly different music things, he went the academic route rather than the route of being the deep-why-thinker in a pool of folks who mostly don’t, and he chose different substances to be heavily influenced by in his youth, but they’re so much the same in how they show affection, how they voice affection and commentary on politics and, really, talking about just about everything. mikel’s version is usually less angry and more rueful; brek laughs more, usually sardonically, when he describes the things he sees. but the way they say “hey buddy” when they talk to me is nigh onto identical.

so i didn’t want to leave him—i never, never have—but had traffic to dodge & miles to go before i slept, as sleeping was scheduled to happen at mommy’s house, potentially after making a yet-unscheduled dinner date with message2_love, and anyway the black clouds were rolling back in fast & furious, & so onward i drove, stopping somewhere on 66 for gas and a wander among the wildflowers to make a plan—for the next night instead—and call my mommy to tell her i was on my way. the next few days were a relative whirlwind of caffeine and sugar with cael, delicious pasta & salad & blueberries out at message2_love’s cool new place in alexandria (i found clay’s ninja!), wine with her, wine with mommy, movies with mommy, phone-tag with noahs_mom that never resulted in our getting together despite how we swore this time we’d make it happen, thanks to illness on her part & the dealio with the vet, and being in vets’ offices with mommy & her sick cat. the vets were very nice, but sick-cat-day was a very long day, and fluffy keri russell movies were really all we were up to by the time it ended, & then somehow all of a sudden it had been almost two weeks already since i’d left my cat at home alone with an almost complete stranger, & it was time to get back in the car & return to the ‘cuse to gear up for the seattle adventure—which involved stopping first by the einstein’s in springfield for pre-lamaze-class bagel sandwiches with high school friend susan & her hubby john & their incubation project.

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4 responses

14 08 2008
Anonymous

Hey now!
You are going to have to promise me that next time you go touring up (or down, if you are from these parts…) 81 you will stop and enjoy just a bit more caffeine and small people in Harrisonburg with us! Sounds like a really good trip though…
-brian

14 08 2008
Anonymous

Hey now!
You are going to have to promise me that next time you go touring up (or down, if you are from these parts…) 81 you will stop and enjoy just a bit more caffeine and small people in Harrisonburg with us! Sounds like a really good trip though…
-brian

15 08 2008
vilejynx

Hey, I read the book without you ever having to tell me to… Before I really knew you, actually, so there. 😛

15 08 2008
vilejynx

Hey, I read the book without you ever having to tell me to… Before I really knew you, actually, so there. 😛

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