Friday, September 16, 2005
Sick. On the eve of the day I leave for the rest of the country, I'm sick. Bronchitis again, something that tightens my chest, takes my breath. I've lost my inhaler. It hurts to breathe, but the pain reminds me I am breathing. Pain in your legs reminds you you're walking, where you went, how far. So I am breathing, I am walking, about to be driving. I am ready. I am also afraid. I woke up with it a few nights ago, like the cough: fear in my stomach, fear in my chest.
I write this sitting in an Ohio hospital, and every time the door opens, I look up, expecting someone with a clipboard to call my name. These last few years have been like that, and when my name was finally called, I was afraid to move.
When I left England, it was early morning. Black. The taxi came before dawn, and my companions slept, but I remember waking in the middle of the backseat to look out the back window. We passed the world as we had entered it, the same way. We passed Stonehenge, the first sight I had visited upon arrival (yes, it is right by the highway). And this time I saw it in darkness, and darkness seemed to suit it.
And this time, leaving, I drove through the town to get to the highway; it was the only way. Past the school, my old apartment, the coffeehouse, the bar. The bartender was walking in the square. The baker waved from the door. I had to go through to go on, go back again to get out.
But I don't need that now. I don't need to go back. I don't need to see those places again. This came yesterday from a good friend:
I forgot to tell you San Francisco is the greatest city in the country and you will love it more than anywhere you've ever been and going there is the best decision you've ever made and all the shit you've been through this year and last year and all your life has made you ready for it.
I want to believe I am being led to someone good--not just something, some job or book, but people. I have had some hard jobs. I have lived in some rough towns, eaten a few poison apples, but in every town are the most extraordinary lives, and some of them have let me inside and let me walk beside them. I carry them. I want to.
I want to believe my life is preparing me for my life.
This summer I did something I never thought I could do: I finished a draft of a novel--something I used to believe I was born to do, as a girl, but then somewhere along the years, it got lost. Other voices filled my head, and some of them said: write this, not that. You are this thing. You are not that thing.
I am not one thing. I have no idea what I am going to write next. I have no idea who I am going to meet next. But something is going to happen. Something is always, always, going to happen.
Driving back from the hospital, I passed a middle-aged man crouching by a driveway with a girl, a toddler in a pink dress. They were looking at the road. He was pointing her toward the cars. I don't know who they were waiting for, her mother. But someone was coming. Whoever you are, wherever you are, someone is always, always on their way to you, though it may take a long, long time, years. Someone is coming.
I will be driving across the country for the next week until I reach California. I will write and post pictures whenever I can. If you live in Utah or Kansas or Indiana or Illinois or Colorado or Wyoming or California, look for me. I have tangled hair and dirty jeans. I leave a lot behind me. But I hear there's a lot more ahead.
If the rules had changed, then she would learn them. If this was some new and dire season, then she would come to know its name. --Myla Goldberg
Here I go.
Posted by Alison Stine