January 10, 2005

Always There

I almost felt like Alice leaving Wonderland that morning. Stepping out of the red carpeted stairs into a more sane, less adventurous place. My horse and carriage were awaiting me, though in this lifetime they are usually just a green minivan. He wasn’t in the driver’s seat like I expected, but rather walking up the sidewalk like he’d decided that sitting still was too much for him. It wasn’t even five am, I hadn’t been to bed, but by the way he bounced up to me I knew he was just as excited as he always was to go back. He had his cowboy/outback traveling hat perched on his head, and a smile as big as the word Minnesota on his sweatshirt.

I wondered what he thought of me as I stood there. I saw him as the same man who had held me while I cried. Only now sometimes I was the one who tried to comfort him. Did he still see me as that child? Or did he look at the hair and the make-up and not see the child underneath?

“Ready to go kid?”.

I looked over at him, still slightly dazed. I hadn’t been to bed, nor was I completely sober and I could not shake the feeling that I’d just fallen out of the rabbit hole. But I knew the answer “yeah Daddy, lets go home.”

He looked over at me and said “Your shoes are in the car.”, silently mocking the fact that I was wearing knee high boots with three inch heels and pink track pants.

In the same tone I said “I figured packing the moose instead of the shoes was more practical.” We both smiled in acknowledgment of our matching sense of humor. Other people may have found the words humorous, but between just us the jokes always meant more. It was our way of excluding the real world and staying safely hidden in our own.

But he caught a glimpse of something in my eye and his tone softened. “Let’s hit the road.”

I was tired and ready to fall into myself. We started talking, though, about anything and everything. We’d recently been reading the same books. I would read something and give it to him, then he would read something and give it to me. It gave us even more than usual to talk about. That morning it was the Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy and he quoted from it as we pulled into the Hinsdale oasis to get some breakfast for him and some orange juice for me.

As our trip unfolded we talked about other various things. He told me that our new cell plan had more minutes. But I’d never gone over in the old plan, since it was free to call him. We called each other every few days, just when we were walking or driving somewhere, when we’d seen something funny. We would talk while I was going home from night class and make stay on the line until I was at my door and home safe.

He knew something wasn’t quite right during that ride. He kept saying “tell me if you want to go to sleep, I brought you a pillow.” And as much as I wanted to go to sleep and shut to world out, I wanted to talk to him more.

We’d made the trip together so many times that we knew each stop along the way. At our gas station stop he pointed out the building that had once housed a fishing museum. We’d stopped and gone inside one trip. Nothing exciting but a fun hour to spend talking about things we wanted to do and places we wanted to go. Now, much to our amusement, it had become an adult bookstore.

“Probably makes much better money now” he said.

I had been nervous the whole trip. But as we crossed the river into Minnesota I felt a sigh of relief. I didn’t know if what was waiting for me there would be better or worse than what I’d left behind, but I felt that it would at least be more peaceful.

Posted by allison at January 10, 2005 10:29 PM
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