"If adventures will not befall a young lady in her own village, she must seek them abroad." (Jane Austen, Northanger Abbey)

“It’s a dangerous business, Frodo, going out of your door… You step into the Road, and if you don’t keep your feet, there is no knowing where you might be swept off to.” (J.R.R. Tolkien, The Fellowship of the Ring)

The Road goes ever on and on
Down from the door where it began.
Now far ahead the Road has gone,
And I must follow, if I can,
Pursuing it with eager feet,
Until it joins some larger way
Where many paths and errands meet.
And whither then? I cannot say.

Monday, March 22, 2010

The Leap

March 23, 2010
Captain’s Log
We set sail on the HMS
Andromeda five days ago. The setting off is always the most exciting: the briny wind in your face and the sea stretched out endlessly ahead of you. It was smooth sailing from the Port of New York all the way to the Carolinas. The New World holds great promise. It is a land awash with lemons. The only problem the crew and I have now is… which ones do we choose?

On Wednesday, March 17, I packed my little red Toyota Yaris with eight boxes, a laundry basket, a poufy comforter set, and a bunch of other random essentials. And, to my immense surprise and relief—it all fit, and with room to spare!

On Thursday, March 18, I bid farewell to my dad and my brothers, and my mom and I set out on our “blind road trip”. Blind because we had no set plans, only to get as far as we could, perhaps try to reach Roanoke at the farthest, and because we couldn’t see out the packed-nearly-to-the-brim back of the car! We drove through Pennsylvania, a tiny piece of Maryland, and then a bit of West Virginia. But I was most excited to hit Virginia—my native state! It was also the most beautiful part of the trip. We were surrounded by mountains (I want to say on one side were the Appalachians, and on the other were the Blue Ridge.) At sunset the world became awash with layers color: the grass a bright emerald green, the trees red with bursting buds, the mountains behind purple, and the sky glowing orange. We made it to someplace 15 minutes outside of Roanoke and stopped for the night.

On Friday, March 19, we set out once again. But first, we had breakfast. It was free. A word to the wise: never eat breakfast anywhere if it’s free. About a sluggish hour or so later, we had a second, much better breakfast and gained back our energy. We drove through the rest of Virginia, the whole of North Carolina, and then finally hit South Carolina. (I’ve never seen so many trucks before!)

On Saturday and Sunday, my wonderful new roommate showed my mom and me around Rock Hill and Charlotte. I think Ithaca spoiled me. It only takes five minutes to drive anywhere there, and the most complicated highway is Route 13 with two lanes. In Rock Hill one must drive on two- and three-lane highways for at least 15 minutes. I must say, though, that I’ve never seen so many shopping centers in one area. (It’s a good thing I haven’t that much money to spend!) A big challenge for me will be getting used to driving on the interstate. But I suppose if I can drive on 81 and 77 with a stuffed car, I can drive to Charlotte with an empty one.

But I think my favorite thing so far—aside from the freedom, my wonderful roommate, the super cute French bakery in Charlotte, the enormous Barnes and Noble, and the Panera Bread—is being around holly and magnolias again!

It has not been the great shock I feared it would be. Usually when I venture out on my own, I get hit with a paralyzing fear and all I want to do is cower under my covers. But it hasn’t happened yet. Perhaps it’s the leftover practice I got from college. Or perhaps it’s just further proof that it’s past my time to be out on my own. And there appear to be plenty of lemons for the picking. But you know what they say about appearances....

Well, we’ll have to see what comes next.

Beginnings are scary, endings are usually sad, but it’s the middle that counts the most. You need to remember that when you find yourself at the beginning. Just give hope a chance to float up. And it will, too. (Hope Floats)

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Down the Rabbit Hole

One day last summer, my mom and I took a walk. We went to Buttermilk Falls State Park to hike what we call the Lower Trail (though I think it’s really called the Bear Trail.) We got lost. Which was odd because we (my mother, brothers and I) used to always walk that particular trail in the summer when we were little. But there was no denying it—the once familiar trail that wound its way through the woods had somehow vanished and we found ourselves standing in the shrubbery in what appeared to be someone’s back yard. One with a tennis court in it. There was not a soul in sight.

We discovered then that we had followed a trail called the “Duck Trail.” A few steps next to it was one called the “Doe Trail.” We decided to follow it to see if it might lead us back to the trail we remembered.

It didn’t.

It led us back to the backyard. On the other side of the tennis court. Odd. Ahead of us was a gravel drive.

I’ve always said about myself that, if I were a cat, I’d’ve long been dead. Such is my curiosity. I suggested that we follow the gravel drive. And so we did, all the while expecting someone to catch us. (Perhaps the Queen of Hearts.) But we came upon no one. The drive turned into a blind curve flanked by rows of fat firs. And then suddenly we were facing the back end of what appeared to be a very fancy and white apartment building. There was a white tent set up in the expansive back lawn, complete with white wicker chairs and floral cushions. Still there was no one around. (But I couldn’t help suspecting that if we remained hidden for just a few moments, we might catch a tea for some White Queen.)

We continued on toward the building and, upon turning a corner, as if things could not get any more bizarre, came upon a life-sized chess set. This was when I knew we had, in fact, fallen down the Rabbit Hole. Then there was an awning marking the entrance to some sort of spa. Stairs led down, and at the bottom stood a bronze lion as though stationed to devour anyone without a proper invitation. Faint, withering music hung in the air above the lion like some acrid smelling Oriental incense.

And still not a soul! We had fallen upon a ghost town of a parallel universe. Only a few moments later, we realized we had come upon La Tourelle from behind.

You know that odd feeling you get when two separate parts of your life collide? I imagine it’s rather like having your boyfriend meet your parents. Only… not half as awkward. I had never been aware that one could access La Tourelle via the Lower Trail of Buttermilk Falls. Those two places remained in separate dimensions in my mind. And having them all of a sudden collide—with me in the middle—created something like a supernova in my head.

That’s sort of the same kind of bizarre feeling that lies in the difference between deciding to do something… and then actually having to do it. It’s the distortion with which Change contorts the familiar. It’s the way I feel whenever I’m about to do something crazy—that heart-racing, sickening anticipation before the leap. Anything seems simple enough when it’s a month away. But three days? Two? I haven’t done anything terribly crazy in a while, so I’m afraid I’m out of practice. In fact, I’ve always been inclined toward the cautious life. But then… what is it they say about the cautious life?

Courage is not the absence of fear but the judgment that something else is more important than fear. The brave may not live forever but the cautious do not live at all. For now you are traveling the road between who you think you are and who you can be. (Meg Cabot)

I suppose that’s one of the reasons I feel this needs to be done. (Though I know I’m not the only one who thinks so. I’m pretty sure that Someone upstairs gave me the idea first.) I’ve certainly tried to be less cautious, but I never took it as far as it ought to have gone. That particular part of me needs to change. And it is the very thought of Change looming on the horizon that’s making me nervous. Rather like the Jabberwock—

And, as in uffish thought he stood,
The Jabberwock, with eyes of flame,
Came whiffling through the tulgey wood,
And burbled as it came!

Terrifying. But it’s there, waiting for me on what will be my own Frabjous Day (March 18, Moving Day), and it must be confronted. Perhaps it’ll tell me where I can find my lemons. In the meantime, I just hope I don’t forget to pack anything.

Taking a leaf from the Mad Hatter’s book (I wonder if that’s wise?), I seem to have lost my muchness. I know I can be much more “muchier” than I am now. It’s buried somewhere deep inside and I just need to dig it out. The only question is... have I the courage?

And, oh, by the way—why is a raven like a writing desk?

March 18

is the Big Moving Day! Ack! That's two days from now! Who's crazy idea WAS this? Oh, right, it was mine.

I forgot to announce that properly. Sorry!

A Note On My Age

There must be glitch in the Blogger system. I just thought it would be prudent to announce that I am neither 1,927 years old, and that I was not born in 1927. I'm just 27, though there are those who still think me a teenager. I'll be carded until I'm 77.

I prefer to think of myself as ageless.