Parting, Sweet Sorrow And a Cracked Tooth.

24 Jan

The day before I was to sing the song of the open road I was reminded that I’m neither Carlos Castaneda nor Jack Kerouac. I’m not even Elizabeth Gilbert. Those journey-ers did not crack a tooth while eating carrots during their final days of packing. It’s even more demeaning than that, folks, it was a crown. A sign of age inflected upon a sign of age.

Before I tell of  my dental disaster, let me fill you in on the sweet and salty stuff of saying goodbye.  Sitting on a couch at  Madeleine’s,  Bethany and Pat and I wore sunglasses in order to channel LA, (a dark 15 degrees outside),  and to study my US map. Pat, a fellow “girl on the go” as we refer to ourselves when we make last minute trips to Rochester, Syracuse, and the phenomenal  Howe Caverns, planned my itinerary. She felt that my trip would not be complete without a visit to the Largest Prairie Dog In Ohio. I don’t know why I hadn’t thought of that.

Bethany, with whom I’ve the pleasure of studying Elizabeth Bishop’s poetry of travel, gave me madeleine cookies, beautiful  jewel toned spheres. Popping one in my mouth, I remembered something. . something important. I was transported to my Wegman’s list. I needed to buy dental floss before my trip.

Later, Claire and Emily and I met up at the gym for the last time for a long time. Claire made me promise not to date any murderers. That’s a private joke. ( I did once date a murderer. What worried me about him was that he smoked.) Emily provided dark organic chocolate for the drive, and they both told me they were counting on me to be age-inappropriate.   Because they are dear friends, I will try to live up to their expectations.

Elizabeth gave me a tape recorder and paper plates and napkins for the drive, and  excellent  advice. As she watched me place china in a box for LA, she said, “Kirsten.  Fuck the Breakables, just get your ass to LA.” So I put the china back. Her husband Paul’s final words to me also bristled with wisdom: ” Don’t end up in the bin bag.” ( He’s English. ) Their daughter Rebecca had no words, but cuddled me like I’ve not been cuddled in a very long time.  And she did it while wearing her flannel Christmas pajamas and my long black boots. A send-off  full of love and style.

And then I ate the carrot and cracked my crown. My dentist met me the next morning. She and her assistant Kim are familiar with my bad bite, and gnashing issues. My dentist sighed, “Kirsten, you are one of my nicer patients. And you have one of the most difficult mouths.” Yeah, I’d heard complaints about my difficult mouth before. Anyway, she fixed my crown temporarily and sent me on my way.  As I left the office. Kim said,  “Try to relax out there. Stop gnashing.” And then she added some advice from her husband the corrections officer, “Be aware of your surroundings.” Now she tells me. For decades, I’ve  wondering what to do with the surroundings. I generally try to ignore them, hoping they’ll just go away.

I left upstate New York in a blinding blizzard. I was crying with fear and sadness. And fear. Also, fear. Was the blizzard a sign? I could see only six feet in front of me, the road was eerily not plowed, and already I had seen three cars in a ditch. Was I not supposed to go, after all? I am not Castaneda, Kerouac, or Gilbert.

From a rest stop I called Sherry in Ohio–where I was supposed to spend the night. She recalled my mother and her intrepid attitude about driving, traveling, life. I got back on the road and white knuckled it some more, singing along with Head East’s “Never Been Any Reason”: ” Did you see any action/Did you make any friends. . .” Back in high school, Nicolle and Suz and I used to sing this at the top of lungs on our way to parties in Yankee Ridge.

Nicolle is in LA, studying raw cuisine. I was near Erie, PA.  I was aware of my surroundings. They sucked.  I kept on driving, and singing, and crying. This is my journey and I’ll cry if I want to. . .On The Road (what I could see of it), a menopausal Kerouac, Castaneda with a cracked crown, heading not for prayer or love, exactly. Something more like Meet, Bray, Shove.  Fuck the Breakables. 

Dear reader, I made it to Ohio.


4 Responses to “Parting, Sweet Sorrow And a Cracked Tooth.”

  1. Miranda Selover January 24, 2013 at 6:53 pm #

    Kirsten, I’m so happy to be hearing about this journey! I hope you meet, bray, and shove it all the way to LA, and then relax on the beach for at least 3 days. No gnashing! With love, Miranda


  2. Jill Swenson January 24, 2013 at 8:14 pm #

    Meet. Bray. Shove.
    Loved reading about your new journey. Makes me laugh.


  3. noah mirskin January 24, 2013 at 11:50 pm #

    So awesome! ”fuck the breakables” kwasson2012 posted: “The day before I was to sing the song of the open road I was reminded that I’m neither Carlos Castaneda nor Jack Kerouac. I’m not even Elizabeth Gilbert. Those journey-ers did not crack a tooth while eating carrots during their final days of packing. It’s”


  4. maw14747 February 4, 2013 at 6:45 am #

    This is an especially terrific post. The girl who’s all set on being Kitty Veggie for her new life in LA breaks her crown on a….carrot. I KNEW vegetables were bad for us.
    Let’s hear it for age-inappropriate menopausal women on the road, white knuckles, sweet sorrow, and all. Glad you made it to Ohio, dear writer.
    And breakables are for sissies.


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