You know you're truly away from home when you find a tick crawling on your thigh when you make a pit stop at an antique store to peruse the collectibles and use the bathroom. You know you're truly away from home when you eat chili out of a can two nights in a row, and wear flip-flops to the communal shower house, and wake up with a crick in your back from the rough sleep you had in the just-off-the-highway campground, with 18-wheelers rattling through all night. You know you're truly away from home when you step into a roadside diner from 1955, with the prices pretty much unchanged since then. You know you're truly away from home when you drive through towns with drive-ins and ragtime bands playing in the park.
We are wrapping up our second day on the road, and tomorrow we roll into Cincinnati (just a short drive away from the Olive Branch Campground, where we've parked for the night) and our first official Tiny Book Show cross-country tour stop at the Corryville Branch Library. It's all a bit unreal - we have spent so many months planning and plotting that to be here now, somewhere in the middle of Ohio, with a slew of events right around the corner for the next 45 days or so...Amy lit a little sage tonight so we could sort of clear the energetic path, and along with this morning's hilarious speed limit sign, I am trying to remember to slow down and savor not just the stretch of the days ahead, but the stretch that IS every one of those days. The curls of sage smoke drifted around our picnic table, and the three of us sat with cans of Founder's IPA and took the slowest sips we could.
Pennsylvania seems like it stretches nearly halfway across the United States. It is my birthplace. I was born in a steel town to a steelworker father and a mother who stayed home to bake us cookies and greet us after school. Today we attempted to stop at Storyland, which was once a fairy tale park I had visited as a young girl. Apparently it closed in the 1980s, and the remnants of Jonah and the Great White Whale, Humpty Dumpty, and the Old Woman Who Lived in the Shoe can now only be peeked at through the woods as you turn around in the private driveway and rumble past a myriad of Keep Out signs. Disappointed, I Googled it to see when it had closed and saw a bright yellow highlight that clearly warned curiosity seekers to "stay out of the woods." They don't want company.
But I do. I want company for the journey. So today, as we drove hundreds of miles through field after field (after field) of corn, sun shining through plump white clouds, I was glad to have Maya sitting next to me sipping coffee out of a paper cup, occasionally singing bits of songs under her breath. I was glad to have Travis in the backseat telling us stories about growing up in New Hampshire. I was glad for conversation. The three of us spent some time reminiscing about that moment in each of our lives when we realize that fairy tales don't exist and life can be harsh sometimes, but isn't it far sweeter when we have people we love along for the ride?