The drive to Kripalu was intense. My insides roiled with guilt and distraction. I’m still not entirely sure what to expect of this workshop and the girls’ mounting concern about my absence loomed. “Promise me you won’t text,” Sean said to me as we got ready to say goodbye in the parking lot. “I won’t. I promise.” Temptation hit several times, but I kept the phone down, the screen set to the map, which let me know the route I needed to take. No texting, no speeding, just get there, Manda.
I drove in silence for 30 minutes, the scenery changing from urban to suburban, then rural. The drivers outside of Albany moved faster than I realized, the cars surging by, easily 10 miles faster than my 70mph. I marveled at how far ahead they went as the view on either side of me became speckled with white.
Craggy branches stretched out like gangly arms, the top edges capped precariously with snow. Trips on different roads, memories of years before the East Coast and babies came to the fore. My distraction slipped away as I eased back into my seat. James Taylor played in my head, linking to childhood and now.
Lord, the Berkshires seemed dream-like on account of that frostin’
With ten miles behind me and ten thousand more to go
I smiled and turned the radio on. It was fuzzy as I was so far from home. I pressed the seek button, the first station was country, a Jason Aldean song playing. I hit seek again, “98.5 your home for the oldies and for the next 7 weeks, holiday music.” I rested my hand on the steering wheel and smiled as Rudolph came through the speakers. I watched the white grow brighter through the windows.
Something about the quality of the light, or the landscape along the road, reminded me of house hunting with Sean one winter, walking through drafty old houses, peeking through doorways and imagining a life other than what we had. I pressed my lips together and remember listening to the floorboards creak beneath our feet, sometimes we walked together, other times we split up. I would wonder if the house had been happy, if it had been loved or discarded. We spent more than two years searching and remembering those times left me feeling so tender toward us, then and now.
The song changed and “Do They Know It’s Christmas” started. I snapped from my reverie and tried to place the different voices—Bono, George Michael, Boy George. I was about Briar’s age when it came out. I don’t think about us side by side in age very often, I think there are more similarities than I give us credit for sometimes. Maybe remembering that will help as we occasionally make one another bristle.
My phone changed, just 6 miles until my exit. I looked out at the hillside, a sweet gentleman’s farm with a split rail fence, goats, and twinkly lights along the eaves of the house. Snowflakes started to fall and “I’ll Be Home for Christmas” was playing. I felt my shoulders drop and a smile sneak across my face. The spirit of believing and loving filled me. I knew why I was driving.
“Go, you need this. We need this,” Sean had said. “Do it,” my mom said. On one side of me unwavering support, on the other a fear that I am tackling head on by coming. About two miles from my destination I felt flutters of excitement. New beginnings lead to sweet homecomings.
Christmas eve will find me
Where the love light gleams
I’ll be home for Christmas
And you’ll be in my dreams
Writing. Quiet. Reflection. Kittens. Cuddles. Daughters. Woodsmoke and candles. Sean. Piano. Flannel sheets.
As I drove away from home today, I charged toward a dream that is for all of us and will deliver me home with new reserves.