Missouri. A nice place to be for a short visit. As a historian I know there is much to discover about our country's history right here in America's heartland. I've never spent any time exploring the middle section of my country; I've always been in a hurry to arrive at one end or another. This may change today. I am deciding whether or not to continue the trek to my final destination of Batavia, New York. I'm halfway there, but only 1/4 of the way through my intended journey because after spending time in NY, I'm going to have to turn around and make the return trip back to Las Vegas. Frankly, I don't think I have it in me.
I began to feel apprehensive about my decision to drive to and from Batavia as the departing date neared. I couldn't understand my thinking as I'd done the trip many times before. The first round trip took place in the summer of 1978 with my Spokane, Washington cousin, Kelli. I recall that long-ago adventure as fun, yet not without it's challenges. I wracked that up to being due to first-timer nerves.
The next trip was the summer of 1979 with my future first husband. We had a cute little tear-drop camper and the motivation of young love and freedom (I'd just graduated from EATM and my future was unknown) gave the excursion an extra excitement. Numerous other treks across country came over the next three decades, all made for one valid reason or another - but always with the underlying purpose that I needed to get home.
After the last sojourn, 1997-2001, when John and I sought to make western New York our future home and life, an experiment that went bust, we arrived once again in Las Vegas and to the home we wisely never sold. It has taken these past 8 years to rebuild our finances, business and friend networks, and establish our home. That's when, of course, I get restless - just when the dust has settled. So naturally I needed to shake our stable lives up once more by heading to where I believe my heart is - New York and the home I left behind in 1976. It's only for two weeks, it's only 3,000 miles - ONE WAY, and heck, I've done it before. I just don't think I'm going to go the distance, if you will, this time.
I brought along on this trip seven-year-old Aiden, a best buddy if there ever was one in such a small package, and my two favoirite traveling canine companions. That and the great supply of food, entertainment, and coffee would be enough to see me through the long miles of solo driving. But by last night, as I sank into the Econo Lodge bed still shaking with late night caffine and/or 12 hours of driving, I just didn't know how I could wake up and contine east. Before he fell asleep Aiden asked if we could go "home." As much of a trooper as he has been, it's gotta suck sitting in his car seat staring at a DVD player to pass the hours. Can I really do this to him or me for another 5,000 miles and 14 days? I don't think it's gonna happen.
Although I am going to disappoint so many - there's a family reunion and a great music festival awaiting me in New York, I believe I am going to turn this trip around and head home. To the home I keep trying so desperately to deny - Las Vegas, and the husband who tolerates my absences but wishes me there, to the small but comfortable home whose mortgage is up-to-date, to the hot (but, hey it's dry) heat of the desert summer, and to the only drivining I'll need to do is to the corner grocery store.
Since we are in Missouri, the starting point for so many hopeful people as they caravaned west in covered wagons to their unknown futures, I think we'll take our time here today and explore the local culture and history. Rather than blast through glancing at the billboards advertising museums, I think Aiden and I will take the time to see what this region has to teach us. And on my drive west myself, I am pretty sure I'll be contemplating my reasons for elmbarking on this journey in the first place and learn a little more about myself, once again in the process.
For as I am always claiming as one of my mantras, It's not the destination, but the journey that counts, I just know there is a lesson in here somewhere. And, boy I have been on one heck of a journey in this life. This is just one more for the book.