Wednesday, March 17, 2010
Driving on Nine
My mother & I headed north up Route 2 & beyond to the land where I was born today—Vermont, specifically the Westminster & Bellows Falls area. The main goal was seeing my father’s headstone, which neither my mother nor I had seen—she was still living in Florida when he died in 2005 & was unable to come to Vermont—& she’s been unable to make the trip from Dedham, MA to Westminster, VT since she moved to Massachusetts in 2008.
The New England towns all seem so old after the West—the weathered white churches, the 19th century town halls—as we moved up 140 thru Winchedon & then onto Route 12 west thru southern New Hampshire, the quaint historical New England mingled with childhood scenes & remembrances—as Hkatz described recently on the excellent Sill of the World blog, I knew the turns & intersections without knowing the names or numbers of the routes—
But one route I remember is Route 9, which takes one west from Keene, NH into the Brattleboro, VT area—the pic at the top of the post is the bridge on Route 9 crossing the Connecticut River as it runs between the two states—it reminded me of my friends Carrie & Jonah & Dani—Ed’s Redeeming Qualities; Dani’s cousin Dom, who founded the band before his death at an impossibly young age, wrote the song while living in eastern New Hampshire. It’s such a song of youthful loss—a bit of wry humor & a lot of heartache—
This trip was about a whole different type of loss—death—age—physical debilitation—yet still the force that keeps us moving, allows a moment of peace &—yes—happiness in the spring sun as the snow melts from the Vermont hills & pastures & the Connecticut flows deep & dark same as it ever was—
So yes, we found the marker—as is appropriate to this type of trip, it took a bit of effort, but the effort was well rewarded by seeing my mother as she looked at the plot—what is that emotion? Not happiness nor sadness but a very deep feeling that also partakes deeply of both—
& I think of people I’m seeing on this trip: my friend Margot tells me tonight of an elderly man she knows who recently found out that his high school sweetheart had been dead for some 20 years, & at 80 he drives from Massachusetts to New Hampshire to visit the grave—I’m so fortunate to be seeing these dear friends on this trip while we’re all still vital & full of whatever that thing is that allows us to take in the March sunshine a few days before the equinox with something you might even call joy.
& thinking of Carrie, who I saw on Sunday & Jonah who I’ll see on Friday, & Dani who I’m sure I’ll see soon: here’s “Driving on Nine.”