The Return Trip

God, grant us strength today
As we go our separate ways.
Though we do not know quite when,
Shield us ’til we meet again.

me, this morning

Dearest Rachel –

And so it goes, as they say in Tralfamadore. It’s time (and past time, compared to almost everyone else) to return to life as usual… whatever that is anymore. After momentarily peeking at the alarm clock reading 3:30 and 5:30, my body and mind finally reach a consensus to get out of bed at 7:30. It’s actually still earlier than I thought I might do so, but, having gone to bed at around 10:45, I shouldn’t be surprised.

I also shouldn’t get too used to long periods of sleep like this, once I arrive home again. Gonna have to go back to taking things in catnaps (dognaps?) when the opportunity presents.

Between showering, shaving and the rest of my morning ablutions, I dawdle long enough for housekeeping to knock on my door. And here I thought I was going to be getting an early start on the trip home.

I mean, I suppose that on a clockface scale, I’m still plenty early; normally, we wouldn’t leave until five or six in the evening, after closing ceremonies, and not make it home until well after dark, when we would barely be able to tell a rough outline of our tales to Ellen and little (back then) Daniel before collapsing into slumber. It’s still just creeping along to nine in the morning, so it will still only just be early afternoon by the time I pull in today.

Granted, this is because I’m now running a day later than usual, something we were looking forward to doing on a regular basis now that I’ve retired. I can still do it, of course… but it still feels like I’m missing the purpose of it all.

Still, the time spent with Nightelf was pleasant and fruitful. I hope I can take some of those lessons with me back into real life.

One of those, oddly enough, being that of the musical Hamilton. While I (and anyone who knows their American history should) know that Alexander dies at the end, what I didn’t know was that his son died before him – and ironically enough, in a pistol duel, much like his father would later on. There is apparently a song in which Hamilton discusses how to deal with ‘the unthinkable’ of losing a child before his time. Upon further research, I found meta-example and that Lin-Manuel Miranda Lost an infant child during the writing of this musical.

Perhaps his experience colored the entire work. Near the end, after he dies (spoilers), there’s a song about who gets to tell your story. Much of the fame that Alexander Hamilton has, and the light in which we see him, is due to his wife Emily. She spent the remainder of her life – nearly half a century – combing through his papers, and publishing them, in order to tell his story, and make his name great.

It seems, then, that I am meant to be your Emily. Through these letters, well I work through my grief, I also need to show who you were. You were neither saint nor slattern – although you had a little of both in you. You were a loving wife, devoted mother, and friend to all who crossed your path. You are one of a man would be proud to call his own, and yet, he would have to be forced to realize you did not belong to him, but rather belonged with him.

Now, you would probably protest that you’re nothing more than an ordinary girl. That’s fine: I’m nothing more than an ordinary guy. Who better to tell your story?

But now the time has come to go. Everything is packed up, double and triple checked, and I am out the door, breathing the slightly smoke-stained air just outside.

The next time we are here (assuming there is a next time, as Andy from Don’t Walk, Run! Productions would say), the Marriott will be gone, replaced by a Hyatt. Oh, the building will be here, just under new management.

So long old friend, for now.

For all the checking I do, inevitably I wind up forgetting something. I’m 25 miles out before I realized what it is – the leftover pizza from the Wig and Pen. Well, it could’ve been so much worse. You would’ve hated to see me waste food; at least you don’t get to see it.

Besides, Jan and I wasted a lot more when we cleaned out the refrigerator.

At about the same time, the low tire pressure light comes on. I doubt they’re connected, but the timing is… well, it makes me wonder. I’ll have to pull back into Iowa 80 to deal with this.

In the meantime, since I’m not in range to pick up Chicago news radio, I find myself listening to the songs on my iPhone. And I realize why I don’t listen to music nearly as much as I used to. My collection is mostly made up of ‘our’ songs. Not just the ones that we traded back and forth during our courting days; really, everything we listened to together became ‘ours.’ Even those of musicians I’m not familiar with remind me of you: a Joni James rendition of “People Will Say We’re In Love” leaves me bawling inelegantly and articulately. It’s a good thing I’m alone in the car – then again, if you were with me, I would have no reason to cry in the first place.

As long as I’m stopped, I grab myself a chicken sandwich – not a biscuit, unfortunately; it seems it’s past the breakfast hour now – and collect myself for the remainder of the road ahead. I have a long way to go yet – and I’m pretty sure that doesn’t just mean from Walcott, Iowa to Chicago, Illinois.

And all I can do is keep you posted along the way, and pray for the folks at home.

Until later, darling.

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I am Rachel's husband. Was. I'm still trying to deal with it. I probably always will be.

One thought on “The Return Trip

  1. One last observation. Monday morning after a con, the place is largely quiet, a few last stragglers making their way out. By Monday afternoon? It’s a ghost town, almost terrifying in its desolation. Was good to talk with you. Hope you got back okay, and will be praying for you.


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