For those of you just beginning to read this continuing story, there are three previous posts that begin this tale, should you be interested. They are: Possibility Within Impossibility, Breakdown and Stuck. Again.
… Stuck again, but I didn’t quite know it yet. If you’ll remember, I/we took to the road in the first place to attend Kim’s nephew’s California wedding. We had planned to stay at the Snow Canyon State Park campground in Utah for several days anyway and had booked accordingly. So if the shop could get right on the repairs, we would still make the wedding, but we had a definite deadline we were now facing, along with the knowledge that our camp site was no longer available beyond a certain date. We would have to be towed (to where?) if the truck wasn’t repaired by then.
When I say “shop” you need to understand that these guys are the best. They’re like the brain surgeons of transmissions; the very best brain surgeons. Most of them were young-ish—young enough that they grew up working on computerized cars. Geeks! That’s the word I’m seeking. These guys are computer car geeks, transmission geeks to be precise.
They opened up Kim’s truck and were as mesmerized by the intricate workings within her as if they were being asked to dismantle a bomb. They were busy diagnosing just what was going on with the transmission. We were in good hands, it was clear.
Initially they said it might be ready in three days if everything was straightforward. That still gave us enough time to get to California for the dress rehearsal dinner the night before the wedding. Good.
Bear in mind there was no cell reception or WiFi at the campground where we were staying. Normally I would consider that a good thing. But it made communications with the shop difficult.
So in three days we were there at the garage when it opened its doors, only to receive the bad news: the truck was still torn apart and they didn’t even know what was wrong with it yet. The truck’s issues, it seemed, were complicated. Oh dear.
We found ourselves in a terrible time of waiting, and waiting and waiting while being “disconnected” from the electronic world. And our deadlines were swiftly approaching. Every day we would go in and every day they were sick to have to tell us that, while they had outruled certain issues, they would now have to explore others.
We reworked our travel schedule several times as we lost precious days and hours to the mechanics. We were pressed all the way to deciding to make a two to three day drive in one full day’s push. But finally even that option was past us—the last hour of the last day we would be able to even get to the wedding’s reception was gone. We would not be making it to the wedding.
And as terrible as that felt, being done with the waiting and the gruesome countdown and reworking of our plans, was also a relief.
We decided that once the truck was fixed we would wind our way back to New Mexico taking a little bit of a vacation on the way.
In addition to all of the stress about the truck and our resulting scheduling messes, the fact is nothing else unfolded as I’d hoped or imagined either.
On our first morning I couldn’t wait to take Kim to my favorite coffee shop. It sits in the middle of an “art village” where I used to show my work in a gallery and where I also taught classes in my own teaching studio.
I got us lost trying to get there. There were so many new developments, even new schools and malls and hospitals (and the airport was moved to an hour north of St. George!) that I didn’t know many of the streets anymore. All of the landmarks had changed.
When we got to the village the whole place was packed to the gills, people sitting on every surface, and none of them my old friends. The café was noisy, and a glitch in the computer alarm system was setting it off loudly every few minutes and no one knew how to stop it. Add to that a very bad cup of coffee and you must understand my disappointment.
The place didn’t feel the same. It was even dramatically different than when Kathy and I had been there the year before. It felt too busy, too commercial, too successful. It had been discovered. Good for business I’m sure, but painful for me.
Then we stopped by the animal shelter where I used to volunteer. I wanted Kim to meet my old friends there and he wanted to see the place from which Bubba hails (and Boo and Raven as well). But none of my friends were there and we were greeted coldly. We weren’t even invited in.
And a new spa is being built on what used to be a big piece of the protected Desert Tortoise Reserve. Under the name of “progress” so much had changed. It just went on and on, until I thought my heart might break.
And it was HOT there in the desert. My memories of having lived there were of much milder temperatures in the fall—but certainly not THIS fall. In fact it was so hot we really could only get out exploring before the sun had fully risen for the day or as it was setting for the night.
In those cool gray twilights, beginnings and endings, we thought we could see the desert as it must have been in ancient times before man had blacktopped the sand and mashed together camp sites for our trailers.
That was another problem. Here we were in the middle of breath-taking nature, but the Forest Service had tamed that wilderness by putting all of us campers together, lined up like sardines in a blacktopped parking lot.
Loud air conditioners and generators from our neighbors’ traveling homes rumbled and hummed all day and night and huge “pop-outs” that almost touched the Airstream’s sides were opened out to provide their people indoor bedroom suites, entertainment alcoves and breakfast nooks.
It was pretty depressing. There were other sites in the campground that were much more natural and tucked back into the rocks and sage, even one with petroglyphs, but we were told the Airstream was too big for any of them. We could only look at them and pine.
Plus we happened to be at the campground during its busiest time of the year. Not only were we there for the St. George Marathon but also The World Senior Games and the Kayenta Art Festival. The campground was bursting at its seams. They were putting campers onto the tarmac wherever there was space. Oy vey!
We dreamed about the quiet, cool oceanfront campground we were meant to be enjoying with our family and friends, now celebrating without us.
But we each found our own ways of dealing with the loss of the wedding, because it really was a loss, as well as the stress and disappointment surrounding our unresolved car troubles and the extra expense.
For me, of course, it all got me thinking. Here I was, back in Ivins, Utah…
- During a heat wave (and sitting in a trailer on top of new black and tarry-smelling asphalt) unable to even get out exploring during the heat of the day
- Crammed next to giant American monstrosity RVs and their people and noises
- Unable to leave because our truck was still lying in pieces at the mechanic’s
My options were fairly limited. I was quite uncomfortably stuck in fact.
So there was a lot “bad” going on. However, at the same time, strangely enough, it was wonderful.
One of the rangers recommended a good breakfast place. I think it was even part of a small chain, called The Egg and I, but it was surprisingly good. So we started every day there, over good coffee and eggs and checking in with the mechanics. The ritual became a part of our daily rhythms as we navigated the changing expectations of our road trip.
There were some nice wooden rockers on a sheltered patio looking out to the canyon that appealed to me. With nothing I had to do, no place I had to be, nothing expected of me, I was presented with unheard-of empty time spreading before me, time I would never have found at home.
And I was being offered a quiet spot (this in addition to the Airstream having been made so uncomfortable) in which to sit and contemplate–there among the cliffs and stone, a serene place that vibrated healing energy still, despite all the man-made changes.
So I just sat there and daydreamed, read and napped, for days. (How old does that make me sound?) But it was peaceful, deeply restful, needed.
It seems pretty clear to me that I was brought back to this particular place, one in which I’d faced great loss before. Was the Universe bringing me full circle? And if so, why? Was this meant to be some sort of completion? But what is it that’s being completed?
And in my heart and mind I immediately want to know. But I think I already do. For all of my recent pessimism, despite the torment of the last several years, the fact is, I do still have faith. It’s just gone to ground I think. But as I look back now in an effort to tell you this story, I’m coming to think there may be an inherent part of me that will always level out at believing in a benevolent Universe, no matter what.
It becomes its own answer: confronted with unexpected hardship, I believe. Whether I always understand it or not, I trust.
I think Utah wanted me to know this: I am no less than a part of the fabric of the Universe. It cannot separate itself from me. Even when I am shaken to the core, I am still what I came here to be and “To Believe” is part of the fabric of my being. I cannot be separated from this truth, no matter the hardship.
A friend recently wrote this to me, “… as you ponder the meaning of life, don’t forget to factor in the meaning that you yourself make.” And there it is: Every single one of us has a place. We each and every one of us have an effect. I am certain.
And that cannot be insignificant.
[We’d wanted to see a desert tortoise while we were staying in the park and one finally presented itself just as we were finally leaving Snow Canyon. It was motoring across the road…
… and into the safety of the lush grass still available in October…
… now that has to be a good sign, right?]
Next post in this series coming soon.
Love to you all,