notes from the road: intersecting with Delaney

It was a magnificent treat to intersect with my dear girl the other day, as planned, at my home brewery. Here’s what Delaney posted.

Today was an excellent day of responsible adult hydration, new wonderful friends, and the celebration of a sister friend. Julia, this poem is from a woman who would always drive states for you.

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One woman drives across five states just to see her. The woman being driven to has no idea anyone’s headed her way. The driving woman crosses three bridges & seven lakes just to get to her door. She stops along the highway, wades into the soggy ground, cuts down coral-eyed cattails, carries them to her car as if they might be sherbet orange, long-stemmed, Confederate roses, sheared for Sherman himself. For two days she drives toward the woman in Kentucky, sleeping in rest areas with her seat lowered all the way back, doors locked. When she reaches the state line it’s misting. The tired pedal-to-the-metal woman finally calls ahead. I’m here, she says. Who’s this? The woman being driven to, who has never checked her oil, asks. The driving woman reminds her of the recent writing workshop where they shared love for all things out-of-doors and lyrical. Come, have lunch with me, the driving woman invites. They eat spinach salads with different kinds of dressing. They talk about driving, the third thing they both love and how fast clouds can change from state line to state line. The didn’t-know-she-was-coming woman stares at she who has just arrived. She tries to read the mighty spinach leaves in her bowl, privately marveling at the driving woman’s muscled spontaneity. She can hardly believe this almost stranger has made it across five states just to have lunch with her. She wonders where this mad driving woman will sleep tonight. She is of two driving minds. One convertible. One hardtop. The driving woman shows her pictures of her children. Beautiful, the other does not say. Before long words run out of petrol. The woman who is home, but without pictures of her own, announces she must go. The driving woman frets & flames, May I walk you to your car? They walk. The driver changes two lanes in third gear, fast. The trunk opens. The Mario Andretti look-alike fills the other woman’s arms with sable-sheared cattails. Five feet high & badly in need of sunlight & proudly stolen from across five states. The woman with no children of her own pulls their twenty pounds in close, resting them over her Peter-Panning heart. Her lungs empty out, then fill, then fill again with the surge of birth & surprise. For two years, until their velvet bodies begin (and end) to fall to pieces, every time the driven-to woman passes the bouquet of them, there, in the vase by the front door, she is reminded of what falling in love, without permission, smells like. Each time she reaches for her keys, she recalls what you must be willing to turn into for love: spiny oyster mushroom, damson, salt marsh, cedar, creosote, new bud of pomegranate, Aegean sage blue sea, fig, blueberry, marigold, leaf fall, fogs eye, dusty miller, thief-of-the-night.

–“Cattails” by Nikky Finney

…Nikky Finney, who was the first speaker I saw at West Virginia Wesleyan College when I traveled there to visit and investigate whether I wanted to work toward my MFA there, two and a half years ago. I graduated last week, and it is through this program that I know Delaney. So this is all just so perfect.

D, I adore you. Thanks for the intersection and inspiration. I’ll see you soon in your new home. Lots of love.

revisiting, and a break

From Goliad we headed back to one of my home bases, Blanco. We stopped in Canyon Lake along the way so I could ride my old home trail, just 1.5 miles from the little rental house I moved out of less than a month ago. Hops knows this as a trail that we hike together; he was very offended that I was there to mountain bike while he waited with Foxy. I took him for a short walkaround after, and now I owe him a proper hike. I visited my old favorite breakfast taco place, where they still know me, and then headed a little north to Blanco… among other things, I had a sweet visit at the brewery where I worked until recently and where I still have many friends. It is lovely to walk in and feel loved and missed, and a few free drinks don’t hurt a bit. Thanks, y’all. ❤

Hops in a near-deserted brewery at night

I’m here for a few days to regroup and get some stuff done – Foxy needs an oil change and a new headlight, and I’m going to do laundry at a kind friend’s house – before heading out again, by air. I’m flying from Houston to Atlanta, where I join a dear friend (yay! Abby!) for the drive up to West Virginia, where I’ll do my final residency in the MFA program in creative writing at West Virginia Wesleyan College, before I graduate. Foxy and Hops will be waiting patiently in Blanco for me, and we will hit the road again when I return in the new year.

That makes this my last Foxy post for a few weeks, friends, but I’ll be catching up with you (and with so many things!) in January, so stay tuned. In the meantime, happy holidays and love all around. (Posts will continue on the usual schedule over at my book blog, pagesofjulia, if you want to follow there.)

“See” you next year!