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Nine Months Gone


Nine Months Gone.

Our speedometer shows over 23,000 miles since we left home last July. The calendar says we have three months before we’re due back in Denver. A slight panic sets in; where has the time gone?  All those places we wanted to go, things we wanted to do. Yet three months is still a long time. Already the early part of the trip—Maine and Vermont—are turning into memories. We talk about the places wistfully, as if our time there was five or ten years ago.

Sometimes it feels like we need a vacation from our vacation. From hauling our stuff out of the car every night and stumbling into a different motel and eating crummy continental breakfasts and never knowing anyone or where we’re going next. No routines, except eating and sleeping, and even those have broken down on occasion. Then we will come across a fascinating place, like the King Ranch in Texas, or San Miguel Allende, and we will be enlivened. More than once we’ve felt like turning the car toward Colorado and heading home; but we’ve learned to let those moments pass.  Think of your good fortune we tell ourselves. Wait and see what’s awaiting you over the horizon.

We loved San Luis Obispo. A little jewel in the middle of the California craziness. Surrounded by pristine, untouched mountains, not over populated, and yet not “too precious” like Carmel, Aspen or Sedona. We found the house where I lived during the last three years of WWII. My father was officer of the day at Schofield Barracks at Pearl when it was bombed on December 7, 1941. My mother and brother and sister watched from the lawn of officers’ housing outside the base as the Jap planes dove down on the battleships. Only when she saw the red circles on the undersides of the wings did she understand what was happening. I was in utero at the time, which explains everything.

Anyway, not too long after the attack the family moved to San Luis Obispo, where my father was stationed. He was in charge of the Italian prisoners of war at the camp, and I remember them cutting our lawn and babysitting us. We visited the camp, where we saw a sculpture the prisoners had carved with their unit flag and insignia.

At the San Luis Obispo library, I opened the 1943 phone book and found my father’s name. Galleher, Harry N., Major. The phone number was 954-W. That was my name until I was 9 years old. It was strange seeing it in print. The house on Johnson Street was red brick and set back. I got a slight shiver of reminiscence when we approached the back of it from the alley.

We’re moving fast, too fast sometimes, it seems. A different motel room every night for long stretches. Stale bowls of Raisin Bran at the breakfast counter. The gas is $4.50 in California. It was $3.25 in Arizona. We’re in Mendocino now, and will be for another day. Hoping for the sun to break through the fog for our walk. Then on up the coast into Oregon and Washington.

We spent three hours last night finalizing reservations for our trip to Europe. On April 30 we fly from San Francisco to Barcelona. After a week there and on the Costa Brava, we take the train to Madrid. On the 13th we fly to Istanbul, and the next day to Sinop, Turkey, Julya’s hometown, where she has to deal with family business. From there we fly to Bodrum, a resort town on the Aegean, where we board a small sailing vessel for a 7 -day cruise in the Turkish and Greek islands. After that, we bum around Turkey for ten days, going to Cappadocia and Konya, Rumi’s hometown, among other places. We fly back to Seattle on the 10th.

All the planning has killed us. We’re used to looking no further than a day or two ahead. Then there’s the last month. What shall we do with it? Any ideas? We’re kind of looking forward to returning, but I fear two days after we move back into the house we will be hit by an overwhelming depression. We will feel out of place, out of time. We won’t believe how nothing has changed, nothing at all, perhaps even us.

But for now, we’re off for a hike in the nearby Redwood Forest. Everything grows there, including strange creatures, like trolls.

The photo was taken in a small town in Cuba. It is reminiscent of the richly hued scenes everywhere there.

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