Both Sides of the Fence

A Tosa resident since 1991, Christine walks the dog, cooks but avoids housework, writes and reads, and enjoys the company of friends and strangers. Her job takes her around the state, learning about people's health. A Quaker (no, they don't wear blue hats or sell oatmeal or motor oil), she has been known to stand on both sides of the political and philosophic fence at the same time, which is very uncomfortable when you think about it. She writes about pretty much whatever stops in to visit her busy mind at the moment. One reader described her as "incredibly opinionated but not judgmental." That sounds like a good thing to strive for!

In transit

It isn't easy, Kids, Spirituality

With the trip meter on, it's easy to pretend I haven't just rolled the odometer over 100,000 miles on the dinged but reliable Nissan. But even the lower mileage meter's in the thousands, what with trips to campuses, family visits, and job interviews. Sometimes, you just can't get away with driving less. And even if you do, chances are your life isn't staying in the same place.

Last weekend the kids and I went to Oshkosh to see my sister's family before Liz and Geo head off for school. Geo goes to Madison this weekend, Liz goes to Stevens Point the following one.  The dual departures are just days away, and I'm still in denial.

We hit the road early--or what passes for early with 18-year-olds. There was a little crankiness during the rousting/dog walking/breakfasting period: "hurry up" is no one's favorite phrase. But we finally got into the car.

I'd imagined a charming 80 mile conversation, the kids talking about their lives and aspirations, a joke now and then, maybe a song here and there, me imparting a piece of life wisdom so wonderful that the kids nod with affectionate gratitude, and finally the excited recognition of the "almost there" marker, the buffaloes at Glacial Ridge Farms.

As the kids might say "Mom, what were you smoking?!"

Instead, Geo said "I'm tired. You drive, okay?" Liz claimed the stretch-out territory in the back seat, and Geo reclined his passenger side seat as far as it could go. Head sets were on, and before we hit Menomomee Falls, both kids were out. 

It took a few miles of mostly rural roadside before I lost the old "this isn't how I'd planned it" resentment. The sky was clear, the fields green with short corn and gold with tall grain, and I was driving with my babies on board. Little soft snorey sounds escaped as they slept to the car's hum and vibrations, just as they always had. How many contented miles have I driven, luxuriating in the presence of my children near me, safely strapped in, and, for as long as the car was in motion, not yowling? For this hour and a half, I had them all back.

Yesterday was another fine day for a trip of the same length. I had a job interview in Madison, the second one. It was both fun and intense. I'd forgotten to eat lunch, so I wandered down the construction zone that's Madison's State Street and grabbed some pud thai to eat at the wayside on the way home.

I sat at the picnic table in my job interview dress, trying to manage the noodles with the spoon the restaurant had packed and wishing I'd picked up chopsticks on my way out. For 50 some years I've been eating at wayside picnic tables with family and friends, and those memories joined me. Then, the peanuts usually came in the form of peanut butter and jelly.  But other things haven't changed: the farm on one side, highway on the other, the cleanness of Wisconsin's facilities, the sense of being somewhere safe on the way home.

If you are still long enough, something wonderful will present itself. A young buck stepped out of the woods to eat his field corn, and we shared our dinners in companionable silence.

Then it was back in the car, back to Wauwatosa, back home, where everything is the same and everything has changed.

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