A Western Odyssey Begins

Independence, MO

American Rhapsody hits stores on September 11. 

Along with being super excited comes some very simple, predictable brain calculations. 

(New album coming out + 8 potential music videos) + having three weeks off after FASA and a PBS special = cross country road trip!

Only problem is, my husband can’t come for the first week.

Wail!!!

I am not a woman of the strong and independent variety that can separate from their man for weeks at a time and get along all right. When I separate from mine I feel like I’m missing a leg and everybody’s telling me to walk. 

So comes the moment at 4am when James drives me to meet up with everyone at the house. Thankfully everyone is late, so we cuddle on the couch in the dark living room, soaking in the last moments. Alas. There’s always a bubbling fear inside too. What if something happens?

And then the moment when I’m sitting in the car with all my backpacks and purses and drinks and stuff in a mound around me, while mine and James’s hands meet in Tarzan and Jane fashion through the car window.

Then James runs after the car as it drives down the quiet suburb road. Tears well in my eyes. 

8 whole days!!!

There’s only so long I can sit teary-eyed in the back seat, nursing the heart-ache, before I get fed up with myself and pull out a book to read. Unfortunately the book I brought was Til We Have Faces. Reading about Psyche being separated by Cupid, the best husband of all time apparently, is not the best reading fodder right now.

The travel traditions slowly start to sink in. I assimilate into the Bubble, where you leave home, travel, do bunches of stuff, have ridiculous sleep schedules, eat at Panera Bread, Chick-Fil-A, Chipotle, and Cracker Barrel on rotation, dress up, and play music. Then you come back home and everything’s just the same and you feel like you never left at all. They are parallel universes: Road Life, Home Life.

Suddenly Road Life merges with Laura Ingalls Wilder. It jolts me out of my despair. Here I am, traveling over to Independence, Missouri. The whole purport of our Western Odyssey sinks in and Excitement begins to simmer inside of me.

We are actually driving the direction of the Oregon Trail, across three time zones, from Independence MO through Nebraska, Wyoming, Idaho/Montana to Washington's Pacific coast. It is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity.

Memories flit through my head of the Laura Ingalls Wilder books, of that children’s manual of the Oregon Trail that I poured over as a nine-year-old girl and wrote a whole book about. Here I am, walking in that place. Independence, MO.

And then I get to put my memories and thoughts outside of me by having to speak them to a camera lens. Freaky.

And then a very dear friend comes by and we talk and talk right there on the pavement of the beginning of the Oregon Trail, and happiness comes back in along with excitement about where this journey will take us.

Can you tell I’ve seen Inside Out? ; ) Emotions! Emoticons! ; ) (do you remember the days where you first saw that colon and parenthesis and thought, What in the world IS that???)

As the sun starts to set behind the Missouri woodlands and the little kids come back sweaty from their wagon ride, we set off again. After seeing a real wagon and sweating bombshells in the Missouri summer simmer, Little House on the Prairie becomes hazed with a kind of traumatic imagination of heat and discomfort…poor pioneers! 

Darkness blankets the sky as we coast into the grasslands of Nebraska. I fall asleep, because that’s what I do when it’s dark and I’m in the car and there’s no iPhone service to watch a TV show with.

What did people do before iPhones!?