Archive for December, 2008

The Card That Says…I’ve Arrived

Tuesday, December 30th, 2008

First morning. What to do? I lay there in bed and recalled the only thing I remembered from science class, the principle of displacement; a body immersed in a fluid is subject to an upward force (buoyancy!) equal in magnitude to the weight of fluid it displaces. So here I am plunked down in a room called Cadillac Jack, in an inn called Lonesome Dove, in a town called Archer City, population 1800. And that’s Texas, don’t you know. Whatever spills over I’m leaving behind. First thing that’s got to go is the metric system. I’m going to walk miles and miles. And Celsius? It’s 75 degrees Fahrenheit, which means T-shirt and a breeze. I walked up the back alley, bare branched pecan trees waiting for their leaves. The winter grass, dry coarse stalks, in the subtle palette of brown to sweet pale golds.

Right there, top of the alley is the Archer Public Library. I go in and introduce myself and within minutes I’ve been issued my very own card. How can I liken what this means to me? A traveller, a dreamer arriving on Ellis Island? Having my hand stamped at the coolest club in town, the velvet rope taken down? Whispering the secret password and the hidden panel sliding open…welcome.

As Archimedes stepped into his full bath and the water ran over, I emerged from the library and stepped onto the street. I surveyed the still broken down town that I’d first laid eyes on more than one year ago. On the corner one blinking red light swung suspended from a wire. I looked to the north. I looked to the south. Archimedes ran naked with his discovery, “Eureka! Eureka!” he cried. I started laughing, my feet walked liked dancing. I looked up, “Azure, Brandeis, Indigo! Dodger, Majorelle, Royal! Cornflower blue!

And that sky sang the high notes.

Good Life

Losing Time

Monday, December 29th, 2008

Of all the airports in the world, Dallas/Fort Worth seems to be mine. Even though I am directionally challenged, I just cannot get lost in that airport. But I did lose track of time. Not what you’re thinking! I did not miss my flight. But somewhere between the last washroom stop and walking directly through the security door exit to the shuttle van outside, my watch went missing. I was partial to that watch, too. I never wore it on my wrist, but it was always tucked into the side pocket of my satchel. My fellow booksellers had gifted it to me when I retired from the last bookstore. And it was engraved – Loyal and Dedicated – on the back. I thought of phoning the airport’s Lost and Found and inquiring but then changed my mind. Just as I’d read something into it that I’d lost it, wouldn’t the someone who found Loyal and Dedicated give pause to wonderment, too?

I had decided to take a shuttle van from Dallas to Wichita Falls to save a bit of money. The other option was a puddle jumper that took less than an hour. By sitting in a van and looking out the window as we drove the roads further west, I thought I could process that I was really here. Really here in Texas again. Considering that the plane from Vancouver to Dallas took only 3 1/2 hours, I had processing time indeed, as this ride took more than 2 1/2. I didn’t care. Along for the ride was exactly what I had in mind.

Rick the Skylark driver seemed a little befuddled. At one of the last pick ups at the airport he drove away with his fold up portable steps still sitting by the side of the road. This was only discovered at the first washroom break when all of us in the van had to help (some pulling, some pushing, in some rather ignominious places), a very large, elderly woman get up and out and down to the pavement. And then reverse the process.

I looked about at my fellow passengers, seven in all. Two young fellows, one in uniform, both under headphones. Two older women in pantsuits and pearls. The woman beside me worked at Shepherd Air Base and was returning from two weeks in Paris. The last passenger began talking non-stop from her first sighting of the van pulling up to the curb, to my slamming the door shut (up!) when I exited at Wichita Falls. Too loud, too friendly, and an unattractive cackling laugh. When she wasn’t discoursing with the driver she inserted at least four cell phone calls into the mix – daughter, workmate, sales pitch, relative. Public transit, you are a work out.

At the Bowie Exxon with adjoining Burger King everyone went in except me. They all brought out bags of food. I stood and breathed that fine clean air blown free across the flatland. As we drove out of the parking lot still making our way west, as one they opened their crinkly bags and the smell of fast food filled the van. I slumped low in my seat, the sky filled in blue black. I saw the oncoming headlights through the white spun cotton candy of the woman ahead of me. Her hair a perfect hive, the back of her neck a wadi, the patchwork sun-dried skin lifted between the creases.

We drove on. I thrilled to see a roadway sign, an arrow pointing to Gainesville and could hear Lucinda singing “Go back to Gainesville,” in that husky Southern voice she owned. Low new moon, the unmistakable raked silhouette of mesquite against the biggest star flung sky. Beside me the woman snored and dreamed of Paris, the yacker never paused.

Mary was there to meet me in the deserted lot of the Skylark Office in Wichita Falls. Hello Mary! I couldn’t believe it. I was back in Archer City, where I’d felt that first tug. On October 27th, 2007 I had stayed one night at The Lonesome Dove Inn. I had kept my tired eyes open, sat up in bed in Hud’s Library writing out the biggest, bestest, grandest wishes on my Golden Mean. I sent those words out into the night sky of a town I couldn’t see, I didn’t know. And now I was back. (So now are y’all going to do your Golden Mean, too?)

As Mary and I drove along Hwy.79 the 20 miles to Archer, the siren and lights of a Texas cop overtook us and we were pulled over by Lewis. Funny thing was he came to the passenger side and politely ma’amed us through my open window. I introduced myself as Canadian and thanked him for the official welcome to Texas, but he didn’t get my joke. We didn’t get him either because after some bullshit about one of the lights being out on the license plate, politely again and with a tip of his hat, he bade us goodnight. My only brush with the law in Texas. Pretty tame, huh?

Mary and I began our talking. She told me that the Inn was full, we were going to be busy, nine hunters and four bibliophiles. When she’d been talking to her sister and groaned, “What oh what am I going to do with them all?” Ceil had said, “I’d shoot the hunters and quote the readers!” And on that joke we pulled into the driveway, and I remembered this place, even in the dark. There were the two doves in their cage on the porch, Lonesome and Not So. There was the sign on the fence – We Don’t Rent Pigs. And then more arrivals; Ted from Virginia with daughter Dorothy from L.A. and her daughter Wendy, bringing the bibliophiles to seven. Rocking chairs before the fire, a glass of wine, taller tales and much laughter and sharing. My first night at The Lonesome Dove Inn, not so at all.

Good Life

Out Of Attic AutoReply

Sunday, December 28th, 2008

I have left the attic.
I am leaving town.
I am limping, laughing, blowing kisses.
Catching a jet plane.
Crossing the border to Dallas, Texas.
Climbing into a shuttle van and going down the roads to Wichita Falls.
Mary will pick me up there. Mary the innkeeper who has become my friend.
Turning then to Archer City, we’ll be pulling in the driveway of The Lonesome Dove Inn by 8:30 tomorrow night.
I had such a feeling about that place. Then I got the invite, Mary said, “Come on down!”

When I let go of what I am, I become what I might be.
When I let go of what I have, I receive what I need.
– Lao Tzu

I’ll let you know how the letting is going…

Good Life