Coming into town via the Michigan Sixty highway, I passed more than a few landmarks that I knew. Going through Concord and remembering a really good client I had out that way. Passing Spring Arbor and remembering my ex in-laws old house just before I passed the building where I had my first office. Off the highway and passing Lumen Christi Catholic School. Down Michigan Ave towards downtown and seeing my grandparents house all dark. Onward around downtown, taking the two way street around the north side. Finally going up Cooper Street and catching the red light at Ganson, just so I had time to pray for a moment and thank God for bringing me here safely.
Thinking of the trip I embarked on one hundred and seventeen days ago, this one was different and the same. Then it took five days, bandaged and still bleeding, to hobble my way to Texas. The first two days through the biggest snowstorm of the winter. Going off the road into a snow bank and reversing out of it. Later getting stuck in, was it Wendy’s parking lot? And having the nice guy give me a bumper push up the hill. By comparison the path from New Mexico to Michigan was an easy two day drive. Really though, its the stuff in between.
Man, let me sit here and tell you about the last four months, it was an amazing adventure.
The wildlife: deer walking though my campsite. Raccoons. Wild pigs. Birds of all sorts. Rabbits. Ants. Lizards. Bearded dragons. Wild horses. Scorpions. Kangaroo Rats and a traveling pet mouse. And the scenery. South Texas brush country, too many mesquite trees to count. A blue sky beach with sand as far as the eye can see, with oil rigs out in the distance. A dusty Texan border town, controlled by cartels, yet home to generational families and the worlds best bbq.
The low desert? It’s barren as far as the eye can see, if the eye isn’t looking too closely. Isolated oil feild towns, self-sufficient and set in their ways to big boom cities when new oil is found. Quiet hidden reservoirs yielding an oasis and habitat for wildlife. Manmade lakes in small cities, stocked full of trout and catfish. Solo city parks, providing everything a growing community could want from such a city service.
The high desert and foothills, full of vegetation so thick and pokey it cannot be easily crossed, a mountain that challenged me and ended up under my feet, a sun so intense it made a snow bird drive to the mountains. And the mountains and the trees, and the views, and the animals, and the people there.
I met this guy named Cliff.. and Larry.. and Jimi.. and Joe.. and Chris.. and Kent.. and Erin.. and there is so much more.
I went metal detecting and mountain climbing, played with radio’s, built antennas and fought a sixty mile per hour wind for my right to live in the desert in a tent if I wanted to. I went forty days without having a conversation or looking into another persons eyes.
On the eve of Devine Mercy Sunday, I was ready to come home. To come back to this base in Jackson. To come back to the seventeen hundred and thirty four square feet of land I own and the house that sits on it. Some how, at the far end of my journey in the desert, it occurred to me that if God can save my soul, then I can save my house. Now, I realize there is no direct logic in that statement. Yet it occurred to me in a way that assures me of its truth. I left the next morning and stopped at a desert oasis to clean myself of the desert and late into night on the third day, I slept in a bed.
My room at home has been designed for sleep. Room darkening curtains weren’t nearly dark enough. Years ago when I taught myself to sew I made a set of my own curtains to blacken the sun and ban it from that space. With the door closed, there is no sun there. And I slept. And rolled and I slept more. When I woke and needed to, there was a toilet. It was fifteen feet away and I did not need to setup a bucket or baggie or start my car in order to use it. The clean up chore? One second to press the lever and flush the business away.
Back to bed I laid some more under the blankets until I began my old morning routine of rolling and stretching, tensing and contorting my body as much as it will. A shower that defines all showers, it is the basis by which I compare the rest. An extra minute to wait as the on demand water heater got up to speed on my request preceded my shower that needed not have an end. Oh, and conditioner, to have hair clean and soft. To know that I can so easily wake and wash it again tomorrow, without that being the plan for my entire day.
Down the stairs, up the stairs – so unusual, as if I hadn’t seen stairs in months.. Yet, also if I hadn’t seen them in years, as on several trips up my brain was directing my legs to take them two at a time, which I couldn’t, though going up slowing one stair at time wasn’t a problem anymore- I didn’t need to plan my trips to avoid extra transits- just a good bit of needed exercise.
Now that I’m here I could never remember all the details and the joy I found in the last four months, I wish I would have written it down. Ha, I did. And I do remember what I found in the desert. And I do remember what I keep thinking on the last three hours to get here. It was actually kind of weird, yet I kept thinking of my old dog Bailey. I kept thinking he was going to be so excited to see me when I got there.
I no longer have Bailey, he was given away to a neighbor a decade ago. Yet time and time again the same thought occurred to me while I was driving. I think I’m going to get a dog.
And make a list. I avoided my whiteboard and any work at all today really, let’s call it a recovery day. Tomorrow, the world begins anew, tomorrow I need to start a good routine, I’ve got a lot of work to do while I’m here.
Time to rest.