It’s beautiful and bizarre listening back through all the tape as I edit it together into this hour long feature piece. I’m walking across the country in my head and these voices are conjuring visions long forgotten. No doubt there’s plenty of joy reliving these conversations. To hear Jesse spin yarns of raccoon hunting again, to be asked again by Marian: “Did you know that ice sings?”, to marvel again at Archie’s gorilla story, to devour seconds and thirds and fourths of Josh’s musings on reverence and grace, to let Karie break my heart all over again, to laugh with Bil again. I came to really care for – I’d even say love – so many people in my year on the road, so getting to spend my afternoons in their company is a delight.
But there’s also a sadness to it, sometimes wistful, sometimes aching. I’ve never seen the ghost of a lost loved one, but I imagine it’s a similar experience. You’ve already grieved their passing, you’ve finally come to believe they’re not with you anymore and you’ve reconciled yourself to the fact that, in all likelihood, you’ll never see them again. And then there they are, a vaporous apparition from another realm to haunt you or say hello (or in my case, songs truncated and chopped, whispering to me). The ghost isn’t the loved one, it’s an approximation. You can’t embrace the ghost or enjoy a hot cup of coffee and warm, buttered biscuits together while you sit side by side on the porch in silence watching the dawn rise. I spent so many mornings saying goodbye to hit the road again. Sometimes the grieving would only take a few moments. Sometimes hours. Sometimes entire days. Often, I’d weep. Now, listening to these voices again and editing together my year into an hour, I feel like I’m grieving all over again. Of course, this grieving is in fact rejoicing, an amazement that I met him and a gratitude that I met her, just like it was on those mornings of goodbye. But there is a sadness to it, especially when I snap out of my editing reverie and realize I’m sitting alone in front of a computer.
Truly, though, I’d have it no other way. Short of being with these people again (which I hope will happen someday soon) and shy of being OTR once more, there’s no better way to tap back into that sense of wonder I found last year. To spend my days thinking about all that was said to me, teasing out the meanings, working with the realizations and revelations, making the parallels and connecting the dots, this is good work, the only work for me (besides making lattes. I got a job at a coffee shop, and that’s good work, too. Great work, in fact). By the time I hit California, the walking had become less about the walking and more about the perspective walking gave me. That perspective was all about learning and awe. Now, editing these voices together, the learning continues. And so does the awe. You’ll see what I mean in early March when the hour comes out.
So, all’s well here, patiently plodding onward, grieving and rejoicing. Wishing you all the very best in the new year.