Ah, Ithaca! You never change.
Well. You do change. But not in ways that interfere with your essential Ithaca-hood.
In this, I suppose, the college town is mystically akin to the mythological Odyssean isle that gave it name. No matter how many times you leave, no matter how long you stayed away, when you return, you are steeped in the familiar.
Ithaca is at least 50 miles away from any big thoroughfare. To get there, you have to navigate a complicated web of backcountry roads, and there’s always that moment when, coming up over a hill, you first glimpse the spires and towers, and your heart fills with some kind of joyousness because there it is, Ithaca! A floating, counterculture Brigadoon.
I had a good time hanging out with RTT.
I wasn’t at all sure I was going to.
In fact, the night before I drove up there, I could not sleep.
No, really. I mean that literally.
I lay there in my (reasonably) comfortable bed all night long, and I could not lose consciousness.
I had exercised, I had popped melatonin. I’d done all the stuff one does to ensure sleep (when one knows one has to be rested), and I could not drift off. Alcohol might have done the trick, but like I say, I’ve been conscientious about not keeping alcohol in my private stash because it would be wayyyyyy too easy to spend these crazy Covid days in a complete chemical stupor. I would prefer to spend these crazy Covid days in a complete chemical stupor if it comes to that, but I know that would not be a Good Thing, so I am avoiding chemicals.
Late, late at night has its own rhythms.
Around 2am, the house fills up with marijuana fumes—Anton smoking in the downstairs apartment.
Sybyl makes multiple trips on and off my pillows.
The moon is bright. The coyotes howl.
I lay there and made my breathing imitate sleep breathing. Long, long inhalations. Long, long exhalations. Don’t twitch!
But the spark of consciousness never damped.
You can always cancel the trip! I told myself around what I calculated was four in the morning.
But, of course, I couldn’t.
The message that would send to RTT would be flakey, undependable parent.
So as soon as light coalesced, I packed my suitcase and took off.
I figured so long as I drank gallons of coffee, listened to economics podcasts, and thought of driving as an algorithm, I’d be okay.
And I figured right.
Gotta say: RTT’s new crib is pretty fuckin’ fabulous. It’s huge. It’s got multiple windows and is filled with light. It’s got a huge porch, so if its inhabitants were inclined—they’re not, of course—they could set up one of those fabulous, secret urban container gardens. It’s right over the State Theater, so it’s convenient to everything in downtown Ithaca, which is basically everything that’s the opposite of mall culture. And the roomies are cool. I heartily approved.
The young man himself is somber but far more grounded than the last time we hung out during that not-terribly-fun Thanksgiving trip last year. We didn’t do anything special and had a really fun time not doing it. When my chatter impinged on things he did not want to talk about, he could tell me in a neutral tone, “I don’t want to talk about that,” without it devolving into a Big Deal, and we could talk about something else, no foul, no harm. I appreciated that.
On my way out of town, he mentioned that he was dropping by the DMV to take care of something that had to be dealt with before he could take his driver’s test—and my heart just soared! I have been nagging him for (literally) years about getting his driver’s license and finishing that One Class that stands between him and his SUNY ESF diploma, but I had told myself that not one word about that would pass my lips this trip. And not one word did. And he’s taking care of it.
He’s in therapy and taking therapy seriously. I suppose that was what made the difference.
When I stopped in Windsor on the drive back home, whaddiya know: Amanda April June had magically reappeared!
So all in all, a very good trip even though my To Do list this morning spills over three Post-Its, I’m still exhausted, and the maniac in the White House now has ‘roid rage. Crossposted from Dreamwidth.