Weather: The radiant Sun belies the frigidity of the Autumn`s chill…
Reading: Born On A Blue Day, by Daniel Tammett
Written this, the fourteenth day of the tenth month in the two-thousand and seventh year of our LORD, the Second Age. From Prospero House on Dale, nestled in the Eastern frond of Queen Anne`s city in the Forests of Bay Ridge, medius Atlantia of the United States.
Now… where to begin?
Our voyage began with some trifling annoyances but soon yielded to marvel and wonder… that is, before being rudely interrupted by minor catastrophes and trials of physical endurance.
Our arrival was nothing less than a triumph of His providential hand over the slings and arrows of misfortune, and we greeted the black earth of our new home with the rapturous embrace of road-weary travelers.
The road Eastward out of Oklahoma was an easy enough drive… except for the fact that the Air Conditioning on our van died before we even reached Shawnee. This innocuous perturbance was something of presage for the “technical difficulties” that lay ahead.
Crossing into Arkansas, we saw a dramatic shift from the high plains of Oklahoma into the Ouachita Mountains. There is some mighty beautiful land in Arkansas, and I only lament that we were not able to linger longer.
Night fell upon us as we came down from the rugged Ozarks into the gentle sloping lowlands of the Mississippi River Valley.
It was under this cover of darkness that I began to notice a very slight and intermittent flickering of the headlights (in addition to the dashboard lights). There was also a change in the battery voltage gauge that drew my concern. I began to suspect that our battery and/or our alternator was giving out.
Thankfully, we made it to Memphis without failure and arrived at my brother`s home in the late evening hours. After some small revelries, my family and I sank to deep sleep.
Preparing to venture forth towards our next stop, a Brother`s cabin at the foot of the mountains of Eastern Tennessee, we discovered that our alternator had gone out the night before and we had drained our battery almost completely. Nothing a couple hundred dollars and an afternoon`s labor can`t fix. Sigh.
Hemorrhaging money and losing a day of driving was disappointing, but not as much as missing out on an opportunity that will likely not return to us in the foreseeable future.
Early the next morning, we continued Eastward… attempting to traverse the entire span of Tennessee (and half of North Carolina) in a single sprint.
Hoping the cool of the night would compensate for the discomfort of travel without any A/C, we saw the Sunrise over the Nashville skyline; by the time the mid-day heat began to rise, we had climbed into the foothills of Knoxville.
We hesitated in consideration for the task ahead of us… the Smoky Mountains and the Appalachian Mountains.
An ascent and descent of nearly seven thousand feet… challenging under ideal conditions, exceedingly so in a loaded-down van pulling a U-Haul trailer.
Oh, and did I mention it was raining?
Yes, a lovely constant trickle that evaporated as it hit the hot asphalt – which, in turn, rose upward into a white mist that further obscured visibility.
On a certain level I could appreciate the lovely mystic aesthetic of green mountains wreathed in shimmering white mists, bathed in gentle rains… but as someone who was desperately trying to reach Raleigh before nightfall, and without breaking down or wrecking, it annoyed me as much as it gave me great pause.
The ascent was ponderous and agonizing in its methodical difficulty, but the descent was far worse… it`s one thing to slowly nose an over-encumbered vehicle up a rising highway, but something altogether more terrifying to try to keep that same vehicle from careening out of control down the leeward slope to a certain doom.
Coming down from the mountain, we felt the pull of Gravity (normally a force which gives our movements surety and stability) turn into an adversary that must be resisted with the utmost of our mechanical ability.
I will not belabor the episode, but let me just say that to be applying one`s brakes almost completely to the floorboard and yet be accelerating fifty miles per hour downhill is a sensation that I would rather avoid furthermore if at all possible
From thence, the drive was blissfully uneventful and the Carolinian countryside was beautiful – however, the tension and ordeals thus far had worn heavily upon our sensibilities.
A journey that had begun so joyously had become increasingly wearisome as the hour continued to grow late with only limited discernable progress made.
We could not see how far we had come, only how much further we had to go.
My beloved and I had been driving nearly twenty-four hours straight, and we felt every single arduous hour.
By the time we had finally arrived at the home of Jamie and Robin (on the outskirts of Raleigh), I was nearing a point of physical and emotional exhaustion. Despite the lateness of our arrival (as compared to what we had previously arranged), Jamie greeted us with a warm and sincere generosity that is a sweet familiarity to those that are HIS.
A hot shower and a firm bed was all the nourishment I required on that late evening, and I dreamed of a tomorrow that would bring us to our new home.
With the morning came introductions to people that felt as though they already knew each other well.
Even the children seemed to find kindred spirits in their manner of ebullient comportment. Gaelynn had dubbed Jamie & Robin`s daughter her “best friend” before Noontide, and Israel seemed blissfully surprised to find a boy his own age that was equally as manic as he.
The adults, of course, moved slower… with greater hesitance and care in our conversation.
Even so, by the fall of Evening I was joking with Candace: “Perhaps we could just settle down near Raleigh?”
To which she would only sigh and roll her eyes in mock exasperation.
All kidding aside, Candace and I grew quite fond of Jamie and Robin (and their children), and we look forward to returning their hospitality sometime in the near future. We spent a wonderful day reveling in the gracious company of friends, and our parting was a sweet sorrow.
Again, we ventured out under the cover of pre-Dawn night… climbing up along the Eastern Seaboard, passing through the epicenter of Western Democracy in D.C., and arriving in Annapolis in time for Second Breakfast.
Since then, the Time has rushed by in a maddening swirl of tasks and endeavors – which, even now, continue to pose struggles anew and bountiful delights.
We have polished the rough edges of this house into the warm comfort of a home; we have acclimated ourselves to the various cultural and environmental differences between this region and that of the Deep South; we have basked in the warm late Summer days with our feet in the sand and felt the brisk wind of an Autumn that has come far earlier than we are accustomed… slowly but surely we are finding our familiar rhythms in these different environs.
Candace works at a Coffeehouse on the City Dock, the bustling nerve center of historic Downtown, and is as fond of the assorted people she works with as the colorful characters that suffuse the Downtown vicinities. Almost every night she returns home with a story or anecdote of some strangeness or another.
As for me, I resigned my potentially lucrative position in my uncle`s employ to take a job that is as professionally challenging as it is low-paying… that is, Teaching children with severe to moderate Autism and/or Down`s Syndrome. In a short time, I have sought to make myself some flicker of Light in a place where Despair too often casts a long shadow.
Money is tight (nothing new there) and it seems that everything is exponentially more expensive; the pace is faster and people here have a beguiling tenacity that stands in stark contrast to the polite stoicism of the comparatively rural South.
All of which hardly captures the length and breadth of the days which have passed since late August and now mid-October.
I feel so much of the change that has occurred o`er these last days. Something far deeper than the slowly increasing silver-tinged curls that are adorning my formerly black mane or the “two stone” I have lost since Midsummer.
Far too long have I been unable (or even unwilling) to again take up the burden of temporal documentation and personal mythologization, but this long hiatus draws to a close henceforth.