“Home, home again, I like to be here when I can. When I come home cold and tired, it’s good to warm my bones beside the fire.”
– Pink Floyd, Time
It was Sunday, my head hurt. My head had been aching since two days before, since I arrived back In Northern Minnesota. I harsh ache that turned into a dull pain, almost imperceptible unless I reminded myself of it. I had grown so used to this foreign pain that I barely registered it. I unstrapped the bungee straps that held my tent to the old, modified, grill rack that served as an extension of Little Wing’s storage capacity. The rain was coming down slow and lazy, finding purchase on my sweater, and soaking into the fabric, making contact with my skin. The chill of the rain combined with the headache were leaving me a slight bit uncomfortable, but it was nothing compared to the odd feeling that kept growing as I unstrapped the chords holding my portable home to the vehicle I had called home for eight months.
“What are you doing?! What if you have to , leave fast?” My racing brain questioned my motives. It took me a second to remind myself that I wouldn’t have to leave fast, I was home. My brain remembered almost immediately, but the queasy spot in my stomach didn’t seem comforted. I got a good hold of the tent under one arm, the bungee straps dangling from my opposing hand, and I made my way to the door of the place I am parking for a bit; my new home.
I have so much in my head. I have stories galore. I am used to being asked “where are you going to?” Now I’m asked, “where was the favorite place you went?” It is a culture shift for sure. I have thoughts, I have growth, I have the whole world running through my head, and here I am, trying to fit into the space of a one room cabin.
I got into Minnesota and stopped down in Southern Minnesota to hang out with my friend, Judy. That’s where I left off in the last blog. I entered the state tired, cold and sore, and Judy was able to help with all that. I spent two nights there, the second night she gave me the spa treatment, and I soaked in a tub filled with epsom salt. Baths have been few and far betwwen in the last many months and it was exactly what my body called for. The next day I remounted Little Wing and drove the ninety miles North to Dad’s.
It was a cool ride, forty degrees most of the way. The sky was dark with clouds, and ten miles from home I stopped to put on my banana yellow rain pants. By the time I got to Dad’s the sky looked like it was clearing up. I had planned to have lunch with Dad. I have a great bottle of hot sauce from my friend in Arkansas which is all I had when it came to making lunch. With that key ingredient I settled on burritos. I told Dad to get the Rice and Beans ready and I would bring the rest. I had stopped in Cambridge, MN to pick up an onion and a bag of tortilla wraps. I packed them on the Little Wing and I made the rest of theride to Dad’s, stopping omly once more, to put on those banana yellow rain pants.
Lunch lasted three and a half hours. I missed Dad. I was so glad to see him. We had great burritos, and discussed important things over his coffee and my tea. While we stood chatting the sky only cleared up more. When I finally hopped on Little Wing I had to put my banana yellow rain pants back where the came from, strapped down on the back of the tent, strapped to the grill rack that was mounted on the back of Little Wing.
I knew I had a purpose to where I was going, I was headed home to Bemidji. One of my close friends was celebrating her 40th birthday and I had been invited. I saw no reason not to make that my destination for when I got home, so I did. The ride from Dad’s to Bemidji is two hours at the highest speed, more like two and a half at a sane speed. The ride seemed so short because it was so beautiful. It was home. Little Wing had been on this exact route more than once before, an odd reality when one thinks about where else we’ve been, experienceing new places for the first time.
Life is odd. I got back to Minnesota Friday night,and Saturday morning I was greeted with the prediction of snow. I had just left my Dad’s, the place my truck was parked. The truck is the vehicle that I would need if it were to snow. I could have lived without going anywhere for the next week, but I had already made plans to meet up with three different persons about three art different jobs, and all those meetings were scheduled for the day’s with the most predicted precipitation. This meant I had to get my truck. I called around and asked anyone if they could help. I got a reply from one of my closest friends. A woman that I met only a couple years ago, but who loves to have existential discussions as much as I do. We clicked straight away. She is as off the wall as I am, and sometimes we talk so crazy that one of us will apologize, and the other one will just respond with a smile, because we have had the same thoughts in the past that we were just to shy to voice. Eccentric is as eccentric does (whatever that means). Chanel is this wonderful woman’s name, and she stepped up immediately when she new I needed help. I had other friends offer to help, but Chanel was ready to get my truck that evening, so I took her up on her offer of kindness. I rode Little Wing out to her place and then she followed me to the cabin I am now making home in.
I noticed that my rear tire is practically wore through on Little Wing. It was new in California so it is about time it gets replaced. It was a good thing I made plans to get that truck because that tire looks like it could barely go another sixty miles before I would be riding on chords. My next purchase is a new tire, until then Little Wing is parked. A weird thought.
Anyway, Chanel and I went to go get the truck. Two and a half hours to Dad’s. We arrived in style, carring gifts of transmission fluid and brake fluid, which Dad directed me to get for in Ol Smokey (that’s my trucks name, for many reasons. One – I love Smokey and the Bandit, two – my truck isn’t against smoking. In fact, sometimes it smokes like a chimney, but what do you expect? It is 1992 Ford Ranger. Don’t judge). I knew all about checking the fluids in my truck, but since my friend Chanel was standing there I didn’t yell at Dad when he started teloing me how and what I should do. I let his patronizing go, and, as always, he didn’t even seem to notice what he was doing. I just smiled and nodded as he told me how to do the things I had done a million times.
Life was good my truck was running, Chanel and I were on our way, me and Ol Smokey taking the lead and her following in her van. We stopped at a gas station to use the facilities. We got out of our separate vehicles in high spirits, carrying on a jovial conversation. We went inside, did our bussiness, exited the restroom, laughing about some dumb joke, when Chanel went silent. I turned to look at her. She was feeling her pockets and patting her coat. “I did something dumb,” she said,”I did something real dumb.”
I would soon find out that she had locked her keys in her car. I would then drive her two and a half hours back to Bemidji. I arrived home tired. Ol Smokey joined Little Wing in the driveway, and I walk into my meager little cabin.
A cabin with no running water, woodheat, and a composting toilet. A cabin with many windows that look out over trees and swamp. A cabin with a loft for a bed and only enough room for me. A cabin which has my home written all over it. I entered it about midnight and I decided to unpack. I turned on the radio, Saturday night tunes on my local station, Northern Community Radio, are fantastic,. I started a fire, and I set to making home look like home. I went to bed early Sunday morning, around 1:30 am or so. I woke up bright and early, around 6:30 am or so. Around 7:00 am or so I got a call from Chanel. We had agreed the night before that she would get her extra key from home and then I would drive her back to her van. So, on very little sleep, that’s what we did.
Getting my truck was a day and a half of tedious driving, but I am happy to have it. Driving Ol Smokey while Little Wing remains parked is an odd feeling, though. It seems unreal after eight months and five days, 23 states, and nearly 15,000 miles. Four oil changes, and, now, three tires. It is time to stop counting now. That part if the adventure is over, I’m on to to the next one.
The conversations in my life have shifted. I am learning how to talk about things differently. I am learning how much I have grown by the different interactions I am now having with the same people I have already known. I am walking through this life more confidently, and, as I told a friend the other day, I finally feel like the responsible adult I always thought I should be, and honestly, it wasn’t that hard.
The headache was spurred on by a combination of all these changes, I believe. A good day of rearranging my cabin, and exploring this new adventure that is my latest residence, left my head feeling clear. Yesterday I drove to Grand Rapids to meet with old to friends, and load up my truck with stuff to take home. I am going to Dad’s to pick up my record player and music collection today, because that will make my cabin really feel like home.