Do you remember the wobbly carousel display racks of postcards in vacation towns years ago?
Hundreds of postcards. Impossible to pick just one. They all had the same layout……. a beautiful photo on the front and the reverse side was equally divided:
- the left half was just big enough to dash off a few words between running from the beach to the amusement park or the museum for the giant ball of tin foil
- the right half had a tiny square in the upper right corner to guide the stamp placement and four horizontal lines to help you neatly scrawl the address.
That little space on the left had just enough room to drop in some tried and true cliches:
- Weather is great!
- Spent the day at the beach!
- Having fun!
- Wish you were here!
We took post cards very seriously when we were kids. We’d spend ages turning the carousel, listening to it creak, individually selecting just the right cards for friends, neighbors, family and maybe a favorite teacher. Gripping a pen, chewing on the tip, we’d give thought to each word, we would cover the little square with an actual stamp, pull out the list of addresses we brought from home and jot down names and places that seemed both familiar and far away. A walk to the mailbox at the corner or a hand off to the person behind the desk in the hotel lobby and our messages and thoughts were sent on their way, in all directions. It was important to share our thoughts, connect from distant places, remember people we loved, and hope that they remembered us.
Do people send postcards anymore? Or has social media, and the portrait feature on our phones replaced that?
Seriously, when was the last time you got a postcard in mail?
Every now and then I scroll through the photos I have taken since I got on the road in October. They are my personal, customized stack of postcards. And just like the store-bought cards from the squeaky carousel rack, they are meant to be shared.
Leaving in October was pretty anticlimactic. This very big moment happened with a very small sigh from the universe. We tend to make things a bigger deal than they are. And the universe knows that.
I went north to go south. My first stop was a little house well north of the state line…
So, the aforementioned photos start with that first stop on this journey last fall. A collection of pumpkins in the fall, red leaves reflecting on the water, sidewalks built around trees, books to be read, canoes on wheels, and a dog. Lots of pictures of a lovely, little dog… Himself.
The images feel quiet. Reflective somehow. Small moments, and small observances. Joy in small things. In hindsight I didn’t have capacity for much more than that.
My friend has this wonderful life of travel and time spent in faraway places doing interesting things. Her schedule required her to be gone for a month or more. I needed a place for a month or more. She had a dog and plants that needed to be tended to. I had about that much energy.
And so I went.
My life and I spilled out of my car onto her driveway upon arrival. Boxes tumbled out, the suitcase popped open, papers blew, the Roomba started on its own under the passenger seat and the coffee cup that I thought was empty…. wasn’t.
Things in my life clearly needed to be put right in more ways than one.
She and I spent a few days talking and sitting quietly. I got familiar with the little dog’s routine and took copious notes about all the plants. So many plants…. I noted which plants to water on what days, which ones to rotate and which one liked the shades pulled down at night.
After a few days, Himself and I took her to the airport and waved goodbye. With a scarf perfectly swirled and sliding off her shoulder, she breezed through the doors at the airport and left on her adventure. And I tucked into her very lovely little house, with her very lovely little dog.
Before the sun was up each morning the coffee maker clicked on and brewed a wonderful brew and the fragrance wafted up the stairs. Himself would hear it and/or smell it, wake me and nudge me downstairs. We’d curl up on the couch and watch the leaves blow down the street and the kids run for the bus. The little dog fiercely protected the house from all of these threats. And for that the plants and I were so very grateful.
Himself and I walked miles along the water every day. I noticed that he seemed much less brave when he was actually face to face with the threat of a child, mailman or blowing leaf. I carried him more often than not.
As we walked, the cold fall air cleared my head.
And I discovered little dogs to be great listeners.
The leaves changed in a spectacular way, and I changed too, though not quite as spectacularly.
And I healed.
I didn’t know I was broken, really. Because, as they say, a broken watch is right twice a day.
My friend came home. The lovely little dog and I met her at the airport. He leapt up into her arms and all was right with the world again and the plants were all alive. She and I talked about things that were next. We made plans, scrawled notes on big pieces of paper. We crafted ideas that were forward looking, that both required and provided energy, and made us want to get up and do things. Now.
It was as if the intermission was over, and it was time to start the next act.
And with that much needed rest and reboot, I loaded things in my car (I got better with the stacking and the packing). As the first snowflake blew in on the November wind, I drove south to go south.
And the universe and I think this next part is a little more interesting.