June 25 Monday
Every year when we go on our trip, I create a Trip Book. It’s a ritual left over from a trip I took across country, a place to record thoughts, ideas, reflections and glue in postcards and the flotsam and jetsam of a vacation: receipts, pretty labels, random things I pick up or find, like leaves, feathers, interesting flyers…If you were to read any of my Trip Books, you would find one sentiment repeated again and again: coming back to this place, or just being on the road, I feel like I am encountering the ghost of the past, the me I was when I was there last, or, in the case of a shared experience, the we were when we were last in that place. This is important for me because I get to reflect on how I have changed and not changed. Taking my early morning walk along the creek in Samuel P. Taylor State Park, looking at the redwoods in the mist, I hear the blue jay alarm clock sounding, just as I do every year, and I pause to look for the tiny blue jay feather I once found on the path, but it isn’t there. This is a new trip, every year, and yet it is in some ways the same trip, the same circles and patterns of my life.
This is why it was hard for me to say goodbye to 190 Vista Street, my childhood home. In the house I would see some angle of the light in the afternoon, or walk on a path and remember my childhood hide out in a tree that is no longer there, and that place was a part of me, but more than that, it was a way to reconnect with who I was. Sure, I have photos of me on the porch swing as a shy little girl, or as a surly teenager, and memories of sitting there on my wedding night, but photos can only do so much. Being in the space I could always evaluate how far I had come, and yet I could also appreciate what remained the same.
When I realized that my parents were selling the house for real, and that other children would write their own memories there, I was selfish. “That’s my place,” I thought. All the time I was packing and sorting the basement, spending so much time in what I dubbed Memory Lane, the past was alive to me. I found the notes in my mother’s hand timing her contractions the night I was born, a memory I could never have, and innumerable memories of the past mixed with all the usual left over detritus of well lived lives. So the idea of buying the bus became important to me because it was a way to hold onto that past. After all, I spent so much of my childhood in the bus. My father would park it at the bottom of the stairs and pop the top, and it was our playhouse. He would take me to work with him on Fridays, and off we would go to ramble around. I remember falling asleep in the back and waking up in the most magical places: Crater Lake, the coast, and the Rogue River gorge.
Last summer when I tried to explain the bus to Robert I realized I had memorized every part of the bus, from the funny closet where dad stored fishing gear to the space under the bed where the Chinese Dragon kite lived. I found remnants of that kite in the garage, and I knew them immediately, yellow and red cellophane now shredded, but for me, like running into an old friend. Of course, the bus is much older now, as I am, and I am not sure what to expect as we set forth on this journey, but I hope that I will be able to sit in the passenger’s seat and hear the wind, and I look forward to all the other trips we will take, carrying my childhood “home” with me like a turtle with a shell.
July 1, 2018 Update: Made it to Dad’s house, Larry says we can pick the bus up tomorrow night. Larry also wasn’t sure why I was calling, although I thought he told me to call him Sunday afternoon.