Saturday, October 31, 2009

Write of Passage-Day 2

August 3, 2009 - Davenport, Iowa to Sydney, Nebraska (692 miles)

"Make it through Nebraska by the end of the day, if you can."~ Josh, 8/3/09, 10:42 a.m.

Cote and I did our best to do just that, but when all was said and done, we fell short by 100 miles. We left Davenport, Iowa at 8:30 am, with fresh ice in our cooler and a hot cup of coffee from the nearest McDonald's. The plan was to hook up with Cousin Josh and Aunt Deb somewhere along I-80 during the morning hours. They were traveling east, coming home from Yellowstone National Park, where Josh had been working for the summer. He had lived, breathed, and explored this incredible outdoor wonderland for the past 60 days. Cote and I were excited to see them, and we couldn't wait to hear his stories.
Our paths crossed in Iowa City, 10 am. A McStop was just off the exit so we pulled in for an hour of coffee and conversation. How strange it was to meet up with family in a place so random, so far from home. They asked about our adventure, our plans, and climbing trees. We asked them about Yellowstone, its hidden treasures, and what to see if we only had two hours to spend there on our way back home. Josh's advice was priceless--"If you only have two hours in Yellowstone, here's what you do......Drive inside the park, and find a huge boulder. Stop the car, go over to the boulder and sit on it. Then put your head in your hands and start crying, because you only have two hours to spend in Yellowstone."
Since Cote and I had made a pact to have no set plan, no schedule, no "must-do" on this rite of passage, we accepted Josh's advice as much as we could, and continued on in faith, knowing all would be as it rightly should. We couldn't worry about how much time we'd have in places
we hadn't even visited yet, nor could we allow our minds to pitch forward into the unknown days ahead. Our only goal was to live the moment at hand.
After we said our goodbyes, we scooted back onto I-80 West, where cornfields and cattle dotted our landscape for the next 9 hours. The peaceful scenery led to a peaceful car ride, and once again Cote and I drifted in and out of contented silence. She snapped pictures, left and right, of nothing much at all, marking the minutes, masking the time. Then she took over driving at 2:00, owning the next 100 miles of Nebraska, while I kicked my chair back and took my eyes off active duty. Around 4 pm, the town of Kearny appeared, and we both got a bit slap-happy as there was finally something else to look at besides green fields and blue sky. We decided to take the exit, and hunt down a Taco Bell and the "Museum of Nebraskan Art," which sounded about as exciting to me as a root canal, but had caught Cote's fancy and she insisted we detour to check it out. (Actually, we weren't even sure this was the right name. We only caught a glimpse of the sign before exiting and then never saw another one again. We had no idea which way to turn, or what street to find it on). We rambled into town, laughing like a couple of school girls (which, I guess makes sense for one of us), while pointing out odd store-fronts and peculiar business signs to each other. One in particular, a huge white chicken perched above a neon sign advertising donuts, had Cote laughing so slap-happily I thought she was going to spit pieces of Crunchwrap all over the front seat.
After about 15 miles and a very valiant attempt, we finally gave up on finding the museum and headed back to I-80. We hit the expressway, and then hit the pedal a little harder....picking up speed until we were going 80 on 80. Wide open, flat green landscapes returned to greet us, only now they were speckled with large white windmills. They stood, row after row.....giant aliens stark white against fields of endless green. Their arms out-stretched, twirling slow, harnessing a power which could not be seen, to create a power within......a silent message taken to heart by the both of us, on this quiet, serene afternoon.
We hit a late-day dust storm, around Chappelle, NE, which quickly turned into an early-evening thunder & lightening show. It started with tumbleweed bouncing across the highway in front of us, entertaining Cote who had never seen such a sight, and distracting her from the darkening skies and rising winds. Rain eventually began pelting our car, blowing sideways across our
windshield. We drove on, trying to outrun a storm that seemed to be closing in and closing out the vastly blue and vastly quiet Nebraska sky we had grown accustomed to.
Our day ended just after nightfall when we pulled into Sydney. We were tired, we were spent. Going another mile was out of the question, for the next town on our map was well past the Wyoming border. Sydney, therefore, looked like a heavenly oasis at the end of our trek across a long, corn-fed desert. We found a simple motel, grabbed fresh clothes and our backpacks from the car, and then made like snails to our room. Stiff legs and growling stomachs, were relieved by hot showers and a quickly delivered pizza.
Around 11pm, Cote closed her laptop and I closed my journal. I thought our day had come to a close as well, but I was wrong. Instead of turning out the light, Cote launched a topic at me from out of the blue. My usually strong, always spirited, and for the most part, healthy self-esteemed daughter, had a question that was nagging her thoughts and picking at her resolve.
"Why is it that some people seem to like me, and others do not. And why......why...can't I just say, 'Like me, or don't. It's up to you and I don't care.'"
The fragile shell of our rite of passage, had finally broken open. The easy-breezy feel that had blown us this far on our journey, had been replaced by hidden storm clouds of self-doubt and self-worth, that I had no idea even existed. I sat there, amazed at the glimpse Cote was giving me into the interior of her 18-year-old soul. And the mother in me instinctively wanted to fight to protect her. I bit my tongue from blurting out an age-old response..."How could anyone not like you?" Instead, I had to remember who was now sitting in front of me, opening her heart, trusting me with her fears. Cote was no longer 5 years old, and having a spat with her best friend. She was a young woman, trying to determine the steps she needed to take to define who she would be in her own eyes, and in turn, who she stood to become in the eyes of others. I could not coo, I could not coddle her in response. She was searching for something more. And I had been given the distinct honor of helping her discover exactly what that something was.
Cote was asking a legitimate I had asked myself at her age...and one I'm sure we've all asked ourselves many times over.
So we forgot about the clock, we threw time out the window, and we talked well into the night. She described how certain people made her feel, and I did too. We realized that often times it's not so much about "us" as it is about "them".....when people don't seem to like us, because "they" are the ones carrying certain issues, specific baggage. We talked about finding strength to stand in the truth of who we really are, and finding ourselves in the midst of wherever we may be, and with whomever may be by our side. Sleep eventually caught up with us, gently and peacefully. But by the time it did, our minds had been put to rest, our spirits had been renewed. And as we both closed our eyes, our vision of each other had taken on a whole new scope of clarity.

1 comment:

  1. Glad you're back. This blog has something quite fine going. It is a good example of why personal blogging will eventually be as widespread as street addresses and car ownership. We all have a certain point of view and individuality and struggle and life full to bursting. Not just Thoreau and Shelley and Keats and Mary Karr!


Powerful Words

Your children are not your children.
They are the sons and daughters of Life's longing for itself.
They come through you but not from you,
And though they are with you yet they belong not to you.

You may give them your love but not your thoughts,
For they have their own thoughts.
You may house their bodies but not their souls,
For their souls dwell in the house of tomorrow,
which you cannot visit, not even in your dreams.
You may strive to be like them,
but seek not to make them like you.
For life goes not backward nor tarries with yesterday.

You are the bows from which your children
as living arrows are sent forth.
The archer sees the mark upon the path of the infinite,
and He bends you with His might
that His arrows may go swift and far.
Let your bending in the archer's hand be for gladness;
For even as He loves the arrow that flies,
so He loves also the bow that is stable. ~Kahlil Gibran