I’m alone in a diner in Butler, Indiana, eating potato soup and an egg salad sandwich and drinking coffee. I considered one last beery lunch, but I’m already dazed from four hours of pounding into a hard and rainy headwind.
Scout has been counting the days until tomorrow, so I’m determined to get to Chicago tonight.
But I’m not home yet, and I'm still thinking about last night’s party at Tom’s boathouse, on Lake Erie.
Though it was organized as a homecoming thing, there wasn’t any ticker tape.
People don’t care about other people’s travels except as a jumping off point to talk about their own travels. So the more exotic the travel, the less they care.
And to Clevelander, Nova Scotia is exotic. (To a Chicagoan too. I had to show my life insurance agent an electronic map to prove that traveling to Nova Scotia didn’t mean leaving North America.)
So we talked about other things: a fire at a prominent Cleveland bar, a federal investigation of Cuyahoga County politicians, and the locally relevant topic: how guys got their fingers cut off. (At one point in the party, there were three guests with missing digits. Cleveland is a tough town.)
It was a Thursday, so everybody was gone by midnight. Tommy and I took the dog and a bottle down to the beach and talked about the trip—the high points and low points, what the whole thing had meant, what an insufferable know-it-all dick Tommy really is, and how it all came to a head one night on a pool table in Binghamton, New York ….
Now that that writing is done, the trip is finally over.
I’m squarely back into the disorganized daily churn of ambition versus money, small pleasures, regular chores, pointless guilt, bad habits, familiar worries, self-doubt, occasional panic, exceptions to rules, special favors, other people, tight schedules, awkward moments, boring mornings, unplanned-for joy and the whispering hint of a toothache.
What I miss about the trip is the way it organized my life: Gave it a focus—the broad focus of the years and months and weeks of laying the groundwork at home and at work, logistical planning, emotional preparation.
And then the daily doing: Wake up, drink coffee, get on the motorcycle and ride. Take spontaneous detours, or stop only for gas: your call.
The journey was a happy, easy place to live.
Home, I must acknowledge, is where the real adventure is.
But I'm not selling the motorcycle.