Kindness. Generosity. Joy. These are the things I keep seeing, after miles on the highways between stops, when we land in a new place. The full greeting. The honest desire to help. The elegance and selflessness of each offer. How Camille and Anna drove up to Rapid City and jumped right in, and then jumped right in the next day during our morning in Custer. Brad's ease and flexibility and clear excitement and open arms. Bottles of water passed over on hot afternoons. Tommy's wide eyes and eagerness and the rolling cart he steered through the massive Salt Lake City library. The backyard picnic at Amy's. Tim's run to the grocery store for roast chicken. Evan's tenderness, and laughter in the car on the long climb into Idaho. Travis's steady presence. And always, by my side, my love. It seems like the further away we get, the more at home we feel.
Surprises. Like the way South Dakota suddenly changes when you cross the Mississippi and corn gives way to mountains and moon-like landscapes. Like the oboe and guitar playing in the Badlands National Park under a starry sky and the terrific storm, which hit out of the blue in the middle of the night - lighting up our campsite and sending lightning and wind and hail and rain down on us for hours. Like the rainbow that greeted us with equal fierceness at 5 AM the next morning as we wandered around the park in a sleepless daze. Like Camille and Anna walking down the sidewalk toward us in Rapid City wearing "tiny matters" T-shirts and huge smiles as if they were a uniform and they were on the winning team. Like Janet's stories of her hike in Nepal at the age of sixty-five and the fearless way she takes on a new pursuit every decade, still undecided about what it will be in her eighties! Like the tumble of Maya's wallet off of the roof of the car and onto the interstate as we left the rest area. Like Travis scanning the roadside and triumphantly locating every important document and the only slightly tattered wallet. Like the sound hail makes when it hits Maude's aluminum roof. Like Tommy greeting us with a big welcoming hug. Like Evan looking taller and even closer to his man-self when he arrived from New Jersey, landing by my side in the atrium of the Salt Lake City Library. Like the hordes of people awed by tiny books in the Share Space. Like the three brothers in matching white button down shirts, who spent hours looking at the collection and then making their own. Like Arbor and Scott's warm smiles and their gifts of paper and beer. Like Avi giving us his book about the colors of feelings - white is wonder. Like Jo Packham from Where Women Create Magazine hugging me tight, oohing and aahing over our collection of tiny books, and then handing us a box of hot-off-the-press copies of the magazine with our story gracing the pages! Like the love written all over Amy and Tim's faces. Like Grace's wide wide smile and the sound of our laughter with Mr. Christer echoing in the backyard half the night. Like a red-and-white checkered blanket. Like yellow jackets swarming for strawberries. Like the sweet taste of fudge ice cream and sharing a spoon. Like sleep after every long and perfect day.