Monday, August 24, 2015

Indiana Bound

Boy am I feeling emotional as I head into the Midwest. It's as if every family car trip of every summer of my youth is catching up with me. My father grew up in Greensburg Indiana, a town whose claim to fame--as he would proudly remind 
us--was the tree that grew out of the courthouse roof. We would pile into our station wagon and drive, seemingly forever. I did not grow up in a town where people went on vacation, so this trip seemed exotic, daring. Pillows and blankets in the way back. Eating deviled ham out of a can. The lemon smell of wet wipes. So much cigarette smoke. Special stops in niagra falls, Montreal, Hershey, Amish country. And once there it was cousins and aunts and uncles and great aunts and great uncles. It was corn everywhere I looked. It was Aunt Bo's pies and Aunt Mag's cakes. It was thunderstorms and bats swooping in the moonlight. Time passed. The station wagon became an impala. My brother did the driving, cool in his Wayfarer sunglasses. And then it was me driving, my brother dead, his little girl with us now. Finally I could stay up late drinking beer. We slept in the one motel near town. I bought handmade quilts and postcards of that tree coming out of the courthouse roof. When my father was in the hospital dying of lung cancer, his sisters Mag and Dot came to say goodbye. I have not been back to Greensburg since then. As my mother said about this trip, "I couldn't go without my Hood." But I am. Heading there to eat fried chicken and visit cousins and yes, that courthouse. As the highway through Pennsylvania gets eaten up, I find myself crying. For all I had. For all I've lost. For this road leading both backward and forward.