My Dad flew up Thursday afternoon to assist me in moving out and, consequential of my sleep-deprived, exam-taking state, do part of the fifteen hour drive home. I turned in my final exam and, within no less than thirty seconds, my phone started buzzing with the news that he was at my dorm ready to start moving me out.
We wasted no time. Nothing less than a tornado of sweeping-up and placing-in-boxes and balling-up-in-bags cleared through my half of the room. No matter where i am or where i am going, the first items to be packed and unpacked, always, are my posters. It doesn’t feel like my space without color splashed on the walls in the form of treasured photographs or Van Gogh prints; it feels too somber to begin departure without un-doing the creation of my own space. When the walls are stripped, the room belongs to someone else again.
The room now relocated to the back of my car (code name: The Firebolt), we embarked Friday afternoon. Details only reveal the sweet sorrow of parting, and leaving sounds too callous. Embarking, it seems, is the most appropriate. A journey, a voyage, a temporary coming-and-going. My life, these years at university, seems to be an ebb and flow in the most non-figurative of senses.
Enough waxing lyrical; finals seem to have drained me of sensible writing. The journey commenced, the departure encroached, and Massachusetts was bid adieu. Through Connecticut we flew, and into endless hills and thunderstorms of Pennsylvania we held fast. We took our dinner in Scranton at the advice of my favorite Marauder and MI-6 agent, whereupon i ate breaded ravioli (delicious), Dad ate a french sandwich au jus (no beef for me!), and we shared a brownie (or warred over, depending on whose perspective). Fans of the office might appreciate the restaurant in question:
There were hotels to select, and radio stations to recollect, and free wi-fi to prey upon for the father (and more ice-cream eating for me):
…before the time came to take up the wheel once more.
And then, lo and behold, we came upon a town that, were it found on Caprica, i think might be the laughingstock of the entire Battlestart Gallactica. The sign is mildly obscured by poor lighting and droplets of rain, but it reads “Frackville.” I laughed and longed for summer time ample enough to watch science fiction shows.
Night drew close. Gas was consumed by the vehicle, sleep taken by we who, for the day, had occupied it.
We awoke at what in college might be considered the crack of dawn (save for the crew team, perhaps) and traversed more roads through Pennsylvania and Maryland. It was whilst in West Virginia, however, that we drove past a landmark notable for its importance in American Civil War history and for me, most recently, in a paper i wrote for a class on the conscious of women in the lives of Frederick Douglass. Though John Brown was not to be seen, I delighted in recognizing Harpers Ferry (which is, apparently, meant to be spelled sans-apostrophe) and took it as a validation that education can manifest itself usefully in the world outside college.
Through West Virginia we drove until we reached her mother, Virginia, guided so fruitfully by one of the two identical road atlases kept stocked in The Firebolt.
(Also of note: Amherst, blurry at the bottom of the above photograph, bears the same name as a neighboring town to Mount Holyoke. There is also a South Boston in Virginia, which made me feel as though we had never really left Massachusetts to begin with).
While my father drove, i burned CDs filled with old loves and tunes of Carolina. The Avett Brothers, Ben Folds, and Old Crow Medicine Show were featured prominently in the latter category, whilst Billy Joel and Elton John occupied the former.
Whilst in the Shenandoah Valley, we pulled over for a scenic stretching break wherein more classic Larry-and-lizzie photo-taking awkwardly occurred until, thank goodness, a couple from Missouri offered to take our picture in exchange for us taking theirs. Strangers on the road and in snapshots. The mountains were painted like the colors of the Van Gogh works that had so recently collaged my walls. I took solace in this.
I took the driver’s seat, and my father took over the camera. There were lunches to eat, and my first solid jolt of sweet tea since March. Alongside Jerry Falwell’s memorial we ate southern chain food and, though i was acutely aware this was not yet home and in no way did i blend in, there were hints of Carolina growing closer. The air was getting thicker, the dogwood scent more potent.
Before long, there were signs indicating what tastes had taunted and scents alluded to. Chapel Hill was nigh, and summer was really here. Mango Jerry played juxtaposed to Keltic Electric; we sang an out-of-key harmony.
And now here i sit, somewhat at a loss. I knew the semester was wrapping up too fast – it always does, after all – but this happens more than i care to admit. I grow more and more restless, ready to tear down the posters and roll them into their boxes bound for home before i give pause to remember that home is a complicated word. Simon and Garfunkel plays on repeat, the rain taps at the window, and the cats are here. This is home. The room behind is no longer mine, and yet come fall there will be empty walls ready for the stringing up of new photos and old memories. A time in between, the season of weeding, blooming where i am planted. Come what may.