We rode a train today in two circles. I asked Nora where we'd end up, if we could ask the conductor to drop us off in France, and she replied (so factually minded) that we would be returned to the same place we had begun. Then she set her face forward (brave girl ready to do it all again and again only to arrive as she had left, resigned, determined) and despite this, enjoyed the cool breath that moved across her sweaty forehead when I wanted to take her up and tell her to never return to the same place she started without having been changed, without doing something good and crazy and healthy on the journey. She knew this already.
The conductor would pull the whistle rope, and I matched the note with arms up in the air riding a completely horizontal roller-coaster: WOOOOOOOOWOOOOOOOOOOOO. I could see from the way Nora wanted to laugh but didn't that she was on the edge of being embarrassed. But I refused to let it pass: the chance to yell WOOOOOOOOOOOOO. In the tunnel, the conductor turned around and yelled, "Ready?" Yes, I was. And we screamed through the tunnel. Twice around we went, and just as Nora had promised, we were returned to the place we started but better, released, loud and cool.
Nora and I are living in my folks' basement for the time being, another full circle. We arrived in Nebraska six years ago and slept in this same room for six months. And now we wait for the circle to be completed: to return to her birthplace in Athens, GA. Six years ago, Mom and Mike arrived with a white trailer to pack us up. Nora had been in my arms for the last four months on a breathing monitor. On the 18 hour ride, we pulled over at one point beside a wheat field, so I could try to rock Nora to sleep in the shade of the car. She cried and a combine circled by, the yellow dust rising up in a loud cloud that forced us to move our vehicles. I'm not sure if there's anything braver than a mother taking her baby across 1000 miles. I don't see myself this way, but I probably should.
Don't be surprised when you see how easy it is to release the activities of the old life, so you might take up the commandments of the new. We lived on a farm. I was an English professor. And that is the story that waited to unfold when I walked for the first time into my mom's living room with a six month old baby in my arms, sat in a chair and asked, "What happens now?" And that is what happened. You were witnesses. You helped us with your songs and food and love and prayers. And now I'm holding vigil here asking to be released because there is someone so beautiful and strong and certain waiting for us just down the rode a 1000 miles, my husband Tom. I've cleared the space, taken the New Name, and I'm ready to call the freedom song beside the fields, through the tunnels, across the skies until we're home again.