I'm home in Boulder. My Indiana life is behind me (for now). My Colorado life stretches ahead.
It's somewhat wrenching and disorienting to be back. For starters, where am I going to put all the books, boxes of files, clothes from Greencastle Goodwill, souvenirs, and cookie jars that I acquired during my two years away? They simply won't fit in my little house. And how will I get used to so much hustle and bustle after living in a town of ten thousand people, surrounded by fields planted with corn and soybeans? And of course, there is all the work I didn't get done during my final weeks at DePauw, where it seemed more important just to savor its pleasures as fully and deeply as I could. I was so sure that when I got back to Colorado, I'd want to leap back into work mode - wouldn't I? Well, maybe not. . . .
The drive across the country was wonderful. My mountains of stuff did fit comfortably into my Chevy Aveo, leaving room in the front seat for my stuffed rabbit, Ruby, and the thirteen CDs from the audio book I was listening to for that thousand mile drive: The Marriage Plot by Jeffrey Eugenides. It was satisfying to travel the same road I had traveled in the other direction almost two years ago. As before, I did the whole trip not on 70, but on the much quieter 36, which is just a two-lane highway for much of Indiana and Illinois and just about all of Kansas. There was no traffic, no trucks to pass at 75 miles an hour, just long stretches of rural America broken up with small towns with old-time drugstores and perhaps one small cafe or diner where I could refresh myself with hot chocolate and French toast.
I stopped in Springfield, Illinois, to tour Lincoln's home and the law office he shared with Robert Herndon. Betsy-Tacy fans will remember that in Emily of Deep Valley, when Emily asks her former teacher for a recommendation for a biography of Lincoln to read aloud to Grandpa Webster, Miss Fowler replies promptly, "Herndon is still the best. The True Story of a Great Life." So of course I was thrilled to find a Betsy-Tacy connection.
I stopped in Hannibal, Missouri, to eat a Huckeberry ice cream cone while strolling along the banks of the Missisippi.
In Marysville, Kansas, I saw Pony Express Home Station #1.
In Norton, Kansas, I stopped at the Gallery of Presidential Also-Rans upstairs in the First State Bank. Did you know that John Adams defeated Thomas Jefferson only to be defeated by him four years later? Or that Grover Cleveland won the White House, then lost the White House, then won it again, the only president to serve two divided terms? I didn't!
Eastern Colorado is so vast and empty that I was afraid I'd run out of gas, given that when I did stop to fill up my tank, the kindly man who pumped the gas for me told me that it was 55 miles to the next gas station.
And then I was back in the traffic of the Denver metro area.
And then I was home.
I made room for the clothes and books by taking a huge quantity of my old clothes and books to the Boulder Goodwill. I found a home for the cookie jars on the top of my bookcases. The boxes of file folders remain a challenge. I really do need them all. Oh, well. That I generated so many piles of paper during my time away is testimony to how productive and happy these past two years have been. And maybe they hold a whiff of promise for how productive and happy the coming years can be.