Wednesday, April 28, 2010

1000 Miles of Silence


I drove straight through. As I write this I am seated in the Himilayan Institute in downtown Honesdale, Pennsylvania. The stereo is playing gentle Indian music with the distinctive sounds of a sitar and drums. A singer chants ohmmmm. The Institute's coffee bar is the only place in town with a WiFi connection. Yesterday I left Orlando at 9AM and I drove into my step-mom's driveway at 4AM . The last time I drove this route I had my stereo blasting the whole trip. I let the music sway my mood up and down the whole way. This time I drove in silence. My spirit needed the rest. I stared straight ahead a the vanishing point at the end of the infinite road ahead of me. The road soared beneath my feet. My sketchbook sat on the passenger seat as my co-pilot. I fueled myself with peanut butter cookies and Mountain Dew. Once my right eye teared up, probably from eye strain. I put on my sunglasses but soon took them off so I could see the vibrant spring colors unfiltered.
By the time I got to Pennsylvania, it was dark and many of the big rigs were parked on the exit ramps. I got lost several times, once in Baltimore and once on the hilly winding side roads around Harrisburg. when I finally found my way back to the main highway, I was exhausted. Driving past Scranton at three in the morning, my spirit soared. The highway hugged the side of a mountain and in the pitch black, I felt like I was flying. The lights of Scranton could be seen stretching out to the horizon and I was flying above them at eighty miles an hour. I imagined myself flying the Spirit of Saint Lewis safely across the Atlantic. My darn right eye is watering up again as I write this. I can still write with one eye open.
On the final miles driving through the mountainous back roads, I started to see flashes of darkness that would dart in front of my truck. I knew there were plenty of deer up here, so I would pull my foot off of the accelerator. My eyes were playing tricks on me. The dark flashes were phantoms, figments of my overactive imagination and tired retinas. When I rolled into my step-mom's empty driveway, I was ready to sleep sitting up. I opened the front door and the first thing I saw in the empty house, was a plaque that said, "Having a friend is a comfort that can never be taken away. " I have no idea what friend might have given Ruth this plaque or even if she is alive. I dropped onto the couch and fell asleep thinking nothing lasts.
The next morning I went outside to sketch Ruth's former home. Huge bumble bees crawled into the light purple blooms of the Rhododendrons near the porch. The light was radiant and bright. As I sketched, a Fed Ex truck pulled in the driveway. when the driver pulled out a package and started walking to the front door, I got up, thinking I might have to sign for it. My foot was asleep so I stood stamping, trying to bring it back to life. The driver left before I was able to walk. I realized that he hadn't even noticed I was there. I took the package to my step-sister Juanita, who lived next door. She opened it up and discovered two beautiful Hawaiian leis. My father and Ruth visited the islands many times. Ruth will be wearing these leis for her wake. Juanita asked me to bring the flowers to the funeral home downtown. As I drove I kept getting calls from my step-sister, Gail, since she was concerned that no one was there, and she didn't want me to leave the flowers at the door. Mr Hessling greeted me at the side door and crushed my hand with his firm handshake. Gail wanted to talk to him, so I handed him my cell phone. He started joking with her saying that he had given the flowers to his wife for secretary's day. He joked with me as well but I felt a bit uncomfortable since Ruth's body was probably lying in the next room.

4 comments:

Anonymous said...

bless your heart, it's windy here in Orlando,come home.

KC said...

The most striking thing about this sketch is that I can't remember another one you've done that has no people. It's fitting that it's like this, symbolic of Ruth's departure.

Steven said...

Sending good vibes across the blogosphere.

Thor said...

KC,
Thanks for the observation. Indeed I was tempted to place the FedEx delivery in the picture but no human presence seemed for once appropriate.
Thanks for all the well wishes.