I enjoyed our eclipse trip, sandwiched between visits with my mother and her sister here at home. But, instead of a sensible narrative, i give you (with appreciation to George Carlin) brain droppings.
My email box is full of intense messages between white Quakers and one black Quaker. I've tried to pull the entire discussion into a filtered folder, and right now there are 57 messages from the last week. I feel the only way to do justice is to sit and really read, and that's overwhelming, and this is a little microcosm of the larger world and and and and.
My dad was in Florida with his mother last week, and my aunt flew up here to be with my mother who was too sick to travel. Mom had my sister's family and myself over Saturday night for gumbo. (Dad's prolific okra for the win; Christine didn't have the spoons to deal with my family.) A strange and wonderful thing happened in that my mom asked all of us how we were doing and what was going on with us. How incredibly pleasant! I must discuss this with Dad, in part because i don't know how much this novelty was due to his absence. It could also be due to my mom having had hours and hours to talk to her sister. But also, Mom was sitting down with us before dinner! Also a strange new and pleasant experience. I thing that might be because my sister and i said we'd arrive between 5:30 and 6, and we both arrived at 6. This could be a tool my sister and i use in the future to help my mom not be bustling up to the meal.
Or it was a miraculous alignment not to be repeated in my lifetime. I dunno.
My mom looks so old. I need to see what at what age her mother died: 74. Hmm. Ah, and Mom is 74.
My mom's sister is just a year younger than Mom, but looked years younger at lunch yesterday.
(When i use "mom" as a generic noun, "my mom" i should not capitalize it, but as a form of my name for her, "Mom", i should, right?)
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The eclipse trip included some very intentional routing to avoid traffic and other intense human context. Probably the most awkwardly crowded human and vehicular press of the whole trip was at the Flat Rock Wood Room restaurant. The place was packed and making reservations simply provided for a table, not a parking place. We were in plenty of time, though, and had our spot on the patio where Carrie was welcome along with our party of four.
The intentional routing was to take US 64 west, through many little NC towns. I think i only saw two confederate flags flying in front of homes. There is the vacuum that interstates caused: I-40 arcs northward to hit the mill cities of the triad (Greensboro, Winston Salem, High Point) and all the traffic ends up there, along with the gas stations and fast food places. 64 gets a little traffic from Raleigh to Asheboro, where the state zoo is located, but east of that is even deeper in rural NC.
I enjoy such "blue highway" drives, and i think Carrie did too, standing with her back feet on the back wall of the truck cab, front feet of the console between us, nose working the air brought in by the air conditioner, and alert for hours. Christine, though, experiences anxiety (carrying with her awareness of her "deviant lifestyle") and depression (the lack of human culture beyond church after church). Christine was much happier with interstate driving. I think Christine passes, and i expect we get read as sisters or friends, not as a couple. Her heaviness makes me think of the heavy concern people of color must feel driving through similar areas. JD Lanham gives a good accounting of those experiences.
Gotta go to work: the most adorable photos of the trip were of Carrie. Everyone gushed about her. In the hotel someone exclaimed about how happy she seemed. On the trail, she received constant attention for packing in her own water bottle and treats.
We had a cloudy eclipse, but it still brought with it the experience of darkness, like just at the end of twilight when all color drains from your vision. And the horizon with clouds of pink and gold, a 360° dawn, compressed into moments when light returns.
I'd spent much of Saturday, unpacking boxes from California, looking for where i stashed my camera filters. I failed at that (but unpacked some useful things). I wouldn't have been able to use the filters as it was, and the clouds compensated for my lack of filter.
Lanham, J. D. The Home Place: Memoirs of a Colored Man’s Love Affair with Nature. Milkweed Editions, 2016.