God found a way to ease me back into home life from my adventure in the South, though it was hard peeling away from those rolling hills.
It helped when my extended family in Kentucky gathered for a home-cooked meal at Cracker Barrel — one looking just like the restaurant in Bismarck, N.D., where the idea of taking a trip down here first emerged this past Christmas.
These two, kids of my second cousin Chris, rode along with us to the airport in Louisville the next day, yesterday, and since they are the same ages as my youngest two, they helped get me properly oriented toward home.
I sat in the backseat with them while Mom and Blenda, daughter of my Dad’s brother Bill Beauclair, worked the front. I had my book of Flannery’s letters along and they wanted to know what I was reading. Before I knew it, I was explaining all sorts of things about the woman who had transfixed my friends and I enough to travel hundreds of miles to see the elusive peacock place where she’d spent so much time.
Eventually, the subject came around to their beloved hockey team, the Nashville Predators. They were surely impressed to know that I’d met Matt Cullen and interviewed his wife, Bridget, for a newspaper article a few years back.
At the airport, I had a chance to see one more of my Catholic writer friends. Suzanne had had to bypass our trip, reluctantly, in favor of other, more urgent obligations. So it was a true pleasure to have a chance to sit just a while with her before heading back to North Dakota.
I had to grab a bottle of this on the way out.
Sipping on a cool mint julep was something Karen, Christina and I had hoped to do, even if the non-alcoholic variety, but since it never came to pass, I thought I’d stir some up at home sometime, sit out on my back patio and think of them a spell.
Hopefully, it will bring me back to our beloved and blessed time at Andalusia. I’m sighing right now just thinking of it.
But there’s no doubt about the fact that real life needs attention now, too. These reprieves are glorious in part because of the real life that gets lived in between them. There’s no better way to appreciate the mountaintop moments than to live most of the time in the valley. It’s hard to come back to the mundane parts, like bills and deadlines, but necessary, and good, really. There’s a lot of beauty to be lived in these in-between spots; each day is a gift.
I couldn’t get over the Minneapolis airport and its high-tech setup. I felt like I’d time-traveled from a place of yesteryear and straight into the next century.
We ordered dinner right from the ipad. Every little booth in this whole corner of the airport had one and you do everything with the touch of the screen. When the waiter appears with the food it’s almost jarring. You forget there are real people still making it happen.
So now I’m home and far from where I was, but I’ve at least got my peacock feathers. They made it back, though there were a few fragile moments when I wasn’t sure they would. I couldn’t have asked for a better memento than this.
By the way, as Flannery said, traveling broadens a person, including on how to say things properly. I learned, on this journey, that it’s not “Looey-ville” as I’d thought and always heard, but “Lou’-uh-vul.” And, as my cousin Blenda noted while on the subject, it’s not Lah-fay-ette, Louisiana, but La-FAY-et. Who knew? Not me, until now.
And by the way, any poking at the Southern dialect I’ve done these past days is truly out of my love for discovering new places and new ways of being and my meager attempt to enter into the life there. It’s been loads of fun.
And with that I’ll say, y’all come back soon now, hear? I’ve got more updates on the way.
Q4U: What have you learned about another place that you didn’t know before through traveling there?