“And Beyond” — as promised (plus Friday Night Poetry Hour)

So, after ten days in Emporia with my parents, we embarked on the 25th to Wisconsin for a visit with Ashielah’s parents (before the weather gets to looking like real Winter).

After a week+ of temperatures in the 70s and 80s in Emporia, Kansas, the thermometer took a dive (in both KS and WI) — tonight, we are nestled up for a second night in the 20’s.  We bucked a head-wind all the way north, and arrived on Thursday night — but before I venture onward, a brief report of our ten days with Mom and Dad Steinel:

I did some wrestling with their cedar shrubs and overgrown hedges, Ashielah and I drove around the area a bit to feel/smell/sense some of the country around there where we might consider finding a house to rent, and in between times, we ate and visited and went out for ice cream more than once.  It was heaven to scoot around in tank top, shorts, and flip-flops after our unusually cool Summer in Port Townsend, and strange to sleep under just a sheet at night.

Ashielah discovered an organic farm about 20 minutes from Emporia, and we were treated to a grand tour of crops, free-range turkeys and broilers, orchards, etc., when we went out to get an organic chicken to make dinner for my folks.  Ramona (one of the farm-owners) even gave us a free dozen of their farm-fresh eggs — something they provide to all their first-time customers.  (I’m pretty sure they do this to get you ADDICTED to the eggs — which isn’t hard.) 🙂

Our initial visit with my parents (I’ll head back down to Emporia next week) gave me a much better view on what’s going on with my Mom’s health, and I had a renewed appreciation for the candor and sensible approach with which my parents talk to me about their aging, health, and what they want and need in that context.

I’ll take a moment to state something here that I’ve spoken to many of my friends:  If you’d told me ten years ago (or even five years ago) that I would feel genuinely called back to the Midwest to be of assistance to my parents, I would have probably told you you were crazy.

But I do feel that call, and being here feels exactly right at this moment.  Being at my parent’s house was very clarifying for me in terms of “how” I want to available for that support, and also brought up lots of questions about how I am manifesting the reality I want to experience.

It was clear that my parents were glad to have us there.  They were extremely welcoming and wonderful — and . . . having people at your house is stressful, even if it’s a happy stress.  Ashielah and I have been clear from the beginning that we don’t want to live with our parents.  I want to be near enough to help, but have my own space and give them their space, and as much as my folks have insisted that it’s fine for us to stay with them as long as we want to, my plan is to start looking for a place of our own very actively as soon as I get back to Emporia.

Which will probably be on the 31st or November 1 — a new development in our adventure is that I will probably be returning to Emporia while Ashielah and Sovereign stay on here with her folks in Wisconsin for a time (probably another month).

We’ve been talking and feeling through what’s next, and this feels right and ripe for both of us.

It will also be more easeful in many ways — easier for my folks to host one extra body in their house (instead of three) until I find a place for us somewhere in the area, giving A more one-on-one time with her folks (who we haven’t visited in person since 2007), and me more one-on-one time with my folks — plus, I’m sure the kitteh will be VERY glad not to be shoved in the car again next week.  The last hour on the 10 hour drive to Wisconsin was an auditory feast of feline complaints.  While I cannot claim to be completely fluent in Cat-ese, I’m pretty sure a lot of the sounds issuing from the rear of the van could be translated as:  “WHAT?!?!?!  WE JUST GOT SOMEWHERE AND YOU LET ME RUN AROUND OUTSIDE AND LAY IN THE SUN AND NOW WE AREIN THIS EFFINGVANAGAIN?!?!?!?!”

This will be the first long-ish separation Ashielah and I have had in our ten years together (we’ve never even slept apart for more than a couple of nights during that time), and we’ve been living and traveling in very tightly-compressed spaces for the past six months — we’re both excited and curious to see how it will feel to sense our own rhythms and tides in the absence of the other, and to have the adventure of communicating/connecting from afar as we share our individual experiences.

It’s interesting to me that the opportunity to do this so easefully is coming up now — when we are feeling such a strong urge to really find our true home-space and community (and after all the mobility of the last two years, believe me, we are feeling that urge).

One of the exercises that I often give couples when they are facing a major collective choice (like finding a new home, changing jobs, having a baby, etc.) is to have both of them go off by themselves and write/think/express to themselves the true desires of their hearts as individuals — and only then come back together to craft the collective choice — designing that choice to honor both the individual and the collective needs and desires.

Right now, we’ve manifested the perfect conditions in which to perform this exercise prior to finding our “true home” — with the bonus goodness that we will both get to re-connect with beloved family as we are doing it.

We have been talking, visiting, sharing meals, hanging out, and talking again, and we’re thinking that we may settle for the Winter somewhere between Emporia and Lawrence, Kansas.  One of the trickiest puzzles here has been obtaining the type of diet we’re used to and prefer:  nearly all organic and as local as possible.  Being nearer Lawrence has the advantage of easier access to a good local food coop, as well as a more “woo-woo-acclimated” community (there would probably be more people in the Lawrence area who would enjoy attending one of our Open Circles or an onsite class or reading).

Okay — so that catches you up on the logistics and the travel — now for the poetry:

Driving Iowa

The day passes
with the towns

The towns pass
with their white-painted names
standing proud from
green-painted tin

with arrows pointing

and mileage to

and population

pitiful or plentiful

Between the signs
the endless fields
and the barns
leaning impossibly
into grey abandonment
or standing crisply red
and upright

Between the signs
all the stories
my brain has chased
about the last town
we passed

how it came to be called
as it is

and who lives there

and why

Towns whose names
were probably
a seed of old country
planted in the new

a word mangled after
a white finger pointed
and pink tongue demanded
“What is that?”

a single man
too full of himself
to call it otherwise

Too late now

my mind has etched other notes
in the narrow spaces
between the white letters

in the wide miles
between the green signs

This town
is now an Italian dessert

This one
a video game

And in this one here —
all the stories
made by all the travelers
who have wondered
at the names as they whizzed past
are collected
by thick-armed Scandinavian women

and ground into bread for the children

who stand at the city limits
and watch the cars go by

Copyright 10/25/12  Carol L. Steinel

This entry was posted in Uncategorized. Bookmark the permalink.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *