Amy says . . .
We have amazing family and friends who have supported us on this journey, cheered us on every step of the way, donated money, donated their time, sent surprise packages, texted us words of encouragement and love. One particularly dear group of companions has helped us coin the phrase "turkey heart." The general meaning is something akin to Thanksgiving Day, when you are surrounded by family and good friends and so much food you are full to bursting. That good kind of full. That grateful for the bounty kind of full. A turkey heart feels just like that. You look around at a moment in the day and you can hardly believe your good fortune. You can hardly believe you are seeing what you are seeing, doing what you are doing, blessed beyond words. Your eyes fill with tears but you're smiling so big, and the love in your turkey heart is full to bursting.
That's how I felt today in Brady, Nebraska. I was overwhelmed enough to cry when we were speaking about our project at the luncheon this afternoon. I cried because of Pam's hearty greeting as she walked toward us down the street. Dee Ann's unexpected hug and the signs all over town promoting Little Free Library and our visit. The small, beautiful library in the center of town and Dee Ann's story of its grand opening in 2003, its volunteer staff, and the donations of books from every corner of town. The newspaper from 1909 and the hilarious story of a farmer complaining about the party phone line and the eavesdropping neighbors and another explaining that no obituaries would be printed for people who didn't subscribe to the paper because anyone who didn't read the paper was dead anyway and not worthy of print. Dee Ann's grandmother and her gifts of photographs of Brady and her own little book of poetry. The woman who shared her sister's poetry, the words she dreams in rhyme at night, Orion and Leo and Madison and zombies and turtles. Molly and Paul and the stories of their travels. Lane and his son who runs marathons and inherited a love of books and couldn't believe he happened to be in town the very day we arrived. Jack's cowboy poetry and his incredible comedic timing and his offer of a phrase, not just a word for our Tandem Poetry - "Would we have gone along for the ride if we knew the river was going to be so wide?"
Yes, Jack, I like to think we would have. My turkey heart and those hugs from Molly and Pam and Dee Ann before we left were worth crossing the river wide.
Amy's got the words right. Me? I'm a little speechless. The salad luncheon at Maureen's Kitchen and all those faces, welcoming us. The relish tray and those sweet-tart gherkins. Chicken salad with grape halves and taco salad with shredded cheddar and chocolate cake with white frosting and oreo cookies. Dee Ann's pride and her generous introduction and seeing her, later, in our red Type Rider II t-shirt and the giggle that came out of her when she squeezed my bicep to make sure I was in shape. It's true, the day felt full to bursting even before noon, how the ride this morning - though a little on the sluggish side - nevertheless felt easy and sweet, the landscape greening, the shoulder on route 30 generous, the breeze kind, the weather forgiving.
I know from my Type Rider I trip that some experiences are impossible to capture in words or photographs, can be articulated only in the heart. I felt Amy tear up at lunch before her tears actually came, and it was funny because right as Jack was reading his last poem I was already losing my composure, finding myself in that not-quite-conscious state where all you are is how you feel, and all you feel is softness. A porous sieve through which everything passes, and you are there so beautifully helpless against that current. I wanted to bottle up the afternoon like perfume, bring it home with me, send it to anyone who needed reminding that there is true goodness and kindness in the world, and it is right here, it is right here (as Richard Marx so succinctly put it) waiting for you.
And as we wrote our last poems of the day and hugged Pam and Dee Ann goodbye and gave one last glance to the Little Free Library now nesting comfortably adjacent to the Brady Community Center, I allowed myself to believe it, too.