Tuesday, July 04, 2006

From Here to Boonville

We took off early in the morning after a late night at work and too few hours of sleep. Caffeine-charged and rearing to go in the heat, we headed the little Honda west on 44, and sped off. No, we were not headed to the lake, nor to some distant and exotic locale. Sarah and I were headed to Boonville.

We drove the back way, talking about growing up, about the fields, about what we love about driving. We thought. We planned. We dreamed a little. And then we had a meeting with her mom-- thinking and planning, and dreaming a little more. There were vegetables to pick in the back garden of her parents' house, and we left loaded down with carrots, green beans, onions, and lettuce.

Through the back roads once more, we worked our way towards Boonville, a town that's fabled amongst our friends-- and a place I can relate to. Though we might be South Side girls now, we haven't always been that way. There are those of us who grew up in small towns, and those of us who wondered. The notion of driving a half hour to the nearest store, or to school is not far off. Spending evenings as a kid driving through the country, hiking around fields and woods. For us, when we were growing up, it wasn't about doing things, it was about being together-- something I miss at times as I get older.

I got what we called "the boyfriend tour" of Boonville-- you know, when a place is important to you and you want to show someone where the stories happened. The old Victorian houses, the beautiful railroad tracks over the river, the old jail, the ugly casino, a functioning video store (a relic, I felt sure). I saw the childhood homes of friends, the parks where they sled, the streets where they rode their bikes, the places they had snippets of run-ins with the local law. And along the way, I remembered my growing up--different towns, different days. Flags flying high before the Fourth of July.

In the Boonville city park, overlooking the river, there were ballgrounds and swings, pavillions and "Lookout Point"... and the most beautiful image I have seen in a while. A young boy, nine or ten, sat in the bleachers above the ballfield. An older man, his grandfather perhaps, sat in a folding chair behind him. Neither looked at each other or spoke, but both just stared at the field. It was such a quiet moment, and I felt lost in it.

We moved on to Colombia and had some dinner, then drove home in the rain. The day had a purpose, and along the way, I felt like I found the other things I had been looking for-- some link to the past. A reminder that the city is great, but we started somewhere else, and a quiet longing for those days when I could just drive. When nothing worked, it always felt right to drive. And yesterday, I loved it all, but it was nice to roll back into the city, into the heat and thickness before the rainstorm. It was nice to roll back into what I have created, knowing better now that where we come from, though far away, is never lost.

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