Every year, I flee the duties and obligations of life for three or four days. It may not look like a very exciting adventure (links to previous Escapes: 2014, 2015, and 2017), but in reality it’s pretty dramatic stuff. A fifty-year-old tragedy? An artistic soul setting off to seek his fortune? Just read on and you’ll see.
This year I went about an hour away to a fairly unremarkable college town. As usual, the kids made sure I had a traveling companion. This year I was accompanied by Tomago (which according to Google is Japanese for “egg” and I just took Google’s word for it).
Here we are in our hotel room:
Don’t hog the photo, Tomago. You’re an egg. Stop being a ham.
He approved of the retro aesthetic of the hotel furniture.
“Hey. I was told there would be Milanos!”
My escape was in the middle of what turned out to be a monsoon season on the East Coast (we got almost nonstop rain for weeks), so I spent a lot of time watching the rain out my window. I felt like a real writer, holed up in a hotel room, hunched over a keyboard, trying to make my art. Like all good writers, I was sure to drink while writing. In my case it was milk to go with my cookies, but I’m sure that counts in some universe.
My last day, however, the sky cleared. I took the opportunity to enjoy coffee and then a long walk to get to a quilt museum. The long walk was totally just for the pleasure of seeing what life in this town looks like. It wasn’t because I have no sense of direction and turned the wrong way and walked three blocks to get to a place I could have reached by heading straight down the street the other way.
Architect: “I love roofs. Don’t you love roofs? Sometimes I think to myself, A house just can’t have too many roofs, am I right?”
Architect: “So about your church. I’d thought we could go for a soaring Cathedral style, or a bold modern approach with clean lines, or… What? Oh. Yes, A Mighty Fortress is definitely a churchy theme, but do you really think… Okay. Fine.”
Tomago even met some new friends over lunch.
The quilt museum was a wonderful experience. I don’t quilt, but I’ve researched a lot about the art for my novel-in-progress. It went like this: “Hey, I think I’ll add a quilting element to my story. That would be interesting. I’ll just look up a few quilting terms to pretend I know what I’m talking about.” *HOURS OF INTERNET SEARCHES, ENTIRE TUTORIAL VIDEOS, MULTIPLE EMAILS AND MESSAGES, TWO QUILT SHOWS, SIX BOOKS, A QUILT MUSEUM, AND ONE YEAR OF RESEARCH LATER, I KIND OF KNOW A LITTLE BIT ABOUT QUILTING.* I was so interested in the displays in the museum that I forgot to take pictures.
I also dropped by a graveyard, because I really like graveyards. I contemplate the names, the life dates, and wonder about these people who are all done living on earth. You often can piece together stories in graveyards. They’re usually sad stories, but still fascinating.
For instance, this family seems to have a smidge of an obsession with posthumous legacies. Not to mention a lot of money. These grave suites flank the driving path. They come complete with statues, busts of each person buried there, and photographs above each name. Even people not yet dead are memorialized. As are people who have married in. It’s like Hotel California, Family version: You can check in any time you want, but you can never leave.
Beyond The Suite was another, sadder, family story. I didn’t think to get a picture of it because I was so startled. It was a collection of four graves. A wife, husband, and two small children ages 3 and 1 — all of whom died on the same day fifty years ago. I looked up the local newspaper for around that date, and discovered a front-page story about a head-on collision that killed the whole family. (The other driver was hospitalized, and I didn’t find out anything more about him.) It was a Sunday afternoon, so I assume they were taking a drive. The little girl’s body was found underneath her mother’s, suggesting that she was riding in her mother’s lap at the time — no car seats in those bygone days. The grief surrounding this quiet cluster of graves must have been intense.
Less of a tragedy, but puzzling, was that at some point during my trip, Tomago went missing. As I wrote in an email home to the kids:
Tomago the Egg disappeared sometime after lunch on Sunday. By the time I missed him, it was too late. I even went back to the restaurant and inquired, but no one had seen him. Naturally I was devastated, but then found this note on my pillow.
I’m sorry. I didn’t know how to say goodbye. I mean, I’m an egg. I hate break-ups.
I’m not sure eggxactly how it happened. One minute I was with you, and everything was sunny side up. The next thing I knew, my whole life was scrambled. Remember how I met Salt and Pepper at that restaurant? Well, they really knew how to draw me out of my shell, and it turns out we all share the same dream.
Yes. That’s right. We’re forming a band—the Egg Beatles. It’s everything I ever wanted! I’m so eggcited.
I’ll always cherish the time you and I had together. I just couldn’t live a lie, walking on eggshells all the time. I didn’t want you to be unequally yolked to someone like me. The eggxpectations were too much—I guess I just cracked under pressure. Salt and Pepper feel guilty, like they poached me from you. But I really think this is for the best.
Farewell. Don’t worry, I won’t forget you when I’m a celeggbrity. I’ll always be your very own,
At least now we have answers.
After three days away, I got back in my car and headed home via my old friend Rt. 11. DJ and the kids were finishing up their annual standardized testing, and we were all ready for summer to begin.
It was a great escape for me. And somewhere, a small yellow egg is following his dreams.