We’ve made it back to Claremont, a little less than a week after I set off for Louisiana. The trip was a whirlwind: I arrived there Monday night, R.’s movers showed up Tuesday morning, we finished last details there (and I spent some time with my mother) on Wednesday, and headed westward on Thursday morning. Three and a half days later, we rolled back into town and directly to our favorite taco place for lunch.
The drive went fairly well, and included a couple of spur-of-the-moment changes of course: day 1 took us from Baton Rouge to Oklahoma City, day 2 from OKC to Albuquerque, NM, day 3 from Albuquerque to Las Vegas, and day 4 the rest of the way home. Hotels were good, as were meals. Traffic wasn’t bad, except at the overly plentiful highway construction sites. Weather was fine. The only thing that was really not pleasant was the price of gas, and even that wasn’t that big a surprise.
What was odd–what’s always odd to me, about that drive–is the sense of spending so long out in the middle of nowhere, until suddenly, with no real notice, we were home. It’s disorienting, in a strange way, precisely because it’s actually orienting; “home” suddenly becomes radically situated, embedded in the geography that it’s otherwise so easy to forget. To some extent that’s a result of the peculiar location of this place–one minute, we’re screaming through the uninhabitable desert; the next, we’re eating tacos in a very familiar spot, from which all memory of the desert has been erased–but to some extent I think it highlights the odd boundaries that our usual modes of travel allow us to draw around places, the parts of their context that we get to ignore.
The best moment, in any case, was walking into the condo: some pals of mine had broken in while I was gone, hanging a banner reading “Welcome Home, R.!” and leaving a lovely bottle of champagne beneath it. A wonderful homecoming, indeed.