journal

mid-winter

The long drive to Wisconsin. Two sacks of roasted coffee in Youngstown, OH. The surprise of a Jewish deli. Reunions. A concert in a 100-year-old barn. Three good friends, waiting. A single wood stove, enough to warm 60 people. Reading poetry in front of strangers. The sweetness of genuine applause. A writing workshop the next morning. A gathering of words. Passing around a bowl of stories. The first tears. The second. The quiet, reverent awe of listening. A supper clup in Galena, IL. Large, expensive steaks. Thick fries. House salad tossed with Ranch dressing. A giant dinner roll. Two perfect vodka gimlets. The welcome of sleep. The sadness of departure. A long drive through rain. An overnight at the border of Pennsylvania. Waking up to an icy parking lot. Another long drive. Rain and sleet and foreboding National Weather Service signs. Making it home. Unpacking. The first loads of laundry. The tumbling of teenage boys, and how quickly the attention turns to them and how quickly the four days we came from fades. The minor irritations. The impatience. The bristling edginess that signals re-entry. The wanting to go back, to go away. And yet, today, hanging up new artwork on the walls, the rooms changing, the view changing just like that.