Monday, January 11, 2016

pre-Iceland: phase 1

Sheets of Sunday rain cascaded onto the thwacking windshield wipers of my 2007 VW Rabbit. Dark, windy curtains of driving rain greeted me as I sailed south on 81. Much of the time, I left the radio and CD player off. The rain was soundtrack aplenty for the drive that would take me to dear old friends in Florham Park, New Jersey, before flying out of EWR on Monday evening to Reykjavik, Iceland. Around Scranton, fumbling for decent music (rare), I tuned in sports-themed radio stations (FoxSports and ESPN). They delivered second-hand reports of the Seahawks-Vikings playoff game, but I soon tired of their false camaraderie and juvenile banter reminiscent of locker room towel snapping. I mildly rooted for the Vikings (after all, look where I am headed), but I later learned they lost a heartbreaker. Vikings. Heartbreak. Are encounters with Viking descendants the perfect cure for broken hearts, minds, or souls? That question is a shade too cute, even for this writer prone to the showy, cutesy turn of phrase. I suggest it is more accurate to say my Iceland journey is just that: a journey, a reset -- not so much a "cure" for anything. By encountering new vistas, fresh air, new sounds, new people, it will be like taking the Etch-a-Sketch and turning it upside down, shaking it, and scrubbing it of the angular, jagged drawing that was not working anyway. As for this first phase of the trip, I was consoled by my own company. Per her request, I texted trip updates to my youngest daughter back in Syracuse. In Pennsylvania hills before the Poconos, I heard the Rosary intoned. The Third Glorious Mystery: The Coming of the Holy Spirit. I resisted changing the station. Why not? I figured. Each Hail Mary was begun by a male voice who prayed up to and including the word "Jesus." The ten Hail Marys in each decade (dekkid, a severe nun of my childhood pronounced it) were finished by a female voice ("now and at the hour of our death. Amen."). They both had vaguely Irish accents, and the echo in their recitations made it sound like they were in a chapel. As I was listening to this, on a hill to my right, a billboard proclaimed "ULTIMATE MASSAGE. 24/7. No waiting." At a rest stop just inside New Jersey, shortly after the dramatic escarpments of the Delaware Water Gap, I texted my friend Hoagie telling him to tell Brett I had just driven through East Stroudsburg, the area where Brett used to live. By the time I was in the Garden State, the sun blazed through amidst wind-scudded cumulus, casting shadows on hills visible for miles. Temps in the fifties. And after arriving in Florham Park (the second locus of a ten-year stay in Jersey, where two of my children were born), conversation and coming and going. Then eloquent grace from Randy and a grand dinner with nine or ten around the table (family friend Michelle and I the only lefties and seated accordingly), vegetarian delights (couscous, spinach pie, eggplant), stories, laughter, and absence (with the patriarch gone almost a year ago). Today, departure. Like a nervous Nellie or eager child, I fret whether all my documents will be in order or some snag halts the progress of this narrative. Time will tell. It always does.

1 comment:

Blade3colorado said...

Excellent post. Keep us up to date on your Iceland trip!

Steve