On Friday, I woke up early and was on the road by 3:20 a.m. Seven hundred miles away, monks were getting ready for their vigil, and I was headed to them. I had the car packed with books and my document of blog postings that I plan to transform into a memoir manuscript. I brewed coffee, filled the thermoses, grabbed the PBJs, and off I went.
I'll say more about the monastery time later, but for now, let me record some things I noticed on the road, both during Friday's trip and Monday's trip back.
--It's wonderful to be on the road when there are few others out and about. I don't experience that often down here in congested South Florida.
--As I began my journey, I listened to a variety of radio stations--how wonderful to have a time of so few commercials.
--I thought of writing an essay with this title: "Everything I need to know I learned from rock and roll lyrics." In the wee, small hours of the morning, I heard lots of music from my adolescence: "One must put up barriers to keep oneself intact" (Rush), "You've gotta cry without weeping, talk without speaking, scream without raising your voice" (U2), and "Fat bottomed girls you make the rockin' world go round" (Queen).
--On Friday, gas prices rose as I travelled north, until I got deep into Georgia. That's strange: usually South Florida has the most expensive gas.
--I travelled north on the feast day of St. Brigid, and I did a lot of thinking about her. I got a whisper that I'll turn into a poem: "You've heard about the baskets of butter multiplied, but you don't know about the times I wondered how to make the butter stretch to last a hungry month."
--The report of the death of regional accents has been greatly exaggerated.
--Before travelling on to the monastery, I met my friends (fellow writers and retreatents) at a restaurant in Monck's Corner. We ate a Thanksgiving meal out of season: turkey, dressing, sweet potatoes, and collards. YUM.
--I always feel bad about friends whom I don't have time to see, but this trip was very quick. I miss my leisurely trips where I had time to see all my South Carolina friends and my grandmother.
--It was chilly/cold, but I could see Spring getting ready to burst forth: red buds and glimmers of greens in the trees. A sturdy jonquil here and there.
--Leaving early yesterday morning, before sunrise, I heard an owl hooting. It was both otherworldly and wonderfully familiar.
--Yesterday's trip started deep in the country of South Carolina. The monastery is on grounds that was once a plantation. I thought about runaway slaves and the courage it would take to make a break for freedom through the impenetrable countryside and the dark landscapes.
--I kept hearing news reports about the identification of the skeleton found buried under a car park in England. It really is Richard III. Somehow, this thrilled my English major soul.
--It occurs to me that I have never heard the word "Plantagenet" pronounced by a person with a British accent. Perhaps I've never heard it spoken out loud at all. Ah, how the house of Tudor obliterated so many things!
--As I travelled back home, I had so many good ideas about how to structure my manuscript, how to revise some of those blog postings into essays. At one point, I thought about pulling off the road and writing it all down. Instead, I just repeated the ideas to myself.
--Long car trips have that effect on me: ideas bubble up. Yesterday I was getting so many ideas! What a treat. I'm still getting ideas for short stories for my linked collection. I even got an idea for a presentation at a creativity conference, about using arts activities as part of religious services.
--Now the work/joy begins: the revising and the writing and the revising some more.
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