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Elihu Vedder: The Questioner of the Sphinx (1863)
"One must drag a past into their dreams or they never have a chance of coming true."

If someone was manning the helm on this heap and I was its captain, I might feel moved to command that a course for home be set. "Give me the heading for home," I'd bark, and we we'd be on our way. Nobody's at the helm of this heap, though. The Muse and I do what we can, but neither of us have ever shown any particular penchant for navigation. Vectoring chased me off. Too much complicated math. The Muse almost exclusively employs persistence. She tends to get wherever she's going, but rarely by any expedient course. Her path meanders and leverages happenstance, and she'd very likely have it no other way. We're not really into efficiency here, but into collecting the stories our adventures are likely to tell us. The less predictable, the better.

We've gone and done it now, as my mother once might have derisively said.
We declared a definite intent, with date fairly certain. We intend to be HeadingHomeward come March, only two terribly short months from now. We're uncertain precisely how we might manage to achieve that end, which seems more or less our usual approach to making huge changes. We hammer some stake into some ground, then commence to focus upon it. Then, whatever we do suddenly relates somehow to our objective. In light of the existence of that grounded stake, we start taking implications into account. A flood of necessary precedent activities immediately come into focus, threatening to swamp the ship before it's even shoved off, but make no mistake, we left port the moment we made our declaration. Destination certain, everything else to be derived. The very utterance of it chilled me, and should have.

The moment Moses mentioned a promised land, a weightiness labored the conversation. Suddenly, an ordinary Israelite could no longer just hang and take life as it came. No, for then he had a purpose, one presumed to be eternal and holy. He had a destination. Destinations, curiously, tend to slow forward progress. Suddenly one becomes picky, in service to the damned destination. Stuff suddenly matters the way they might have never mattered before. One must comport one's self as a grownup, no tantrums or mysterious bouts with The Vapours tolerated. One accepts a certain discipline and becomes a planner, however inept with vectors one might be. Life, it seems, takes on a smothering immediacy. Distractions get suspended for the duration. It's time to at least try to be best for a change. This has become serious gaming.

Every activity necessary to affect a change of household, and especially those trading house for home, seem unattractive. Packing up all those possessions seems less attractive than simply abandoning them, though I know for certain that I will shortly be packing up the library again, while wondering when I might finally find its contents more encumbering than enlightening and recognizing an extension of my ego when I lift it, and simply let it go. But now's not the time for such executive decisions, though it might too easily appear to be. No, I sense that I must preserve a certain status quo, even though that status quo might well be the first casualty of this move. Everything suddenly seems a push and a shove.

We declared a heartfelt fealty when we were forced to move away from the place we'd come to recognize as our home. That move began an exile which has now extended for longer than we actually inhabited that home. Sure, we've been back, hugging the Just Visiting aisle adjacent to a jail cell, but never returning to home. It had become the renter's place, a strange combination of pride and obligation. I'd come to prune the fruit trees and roses each early spring, warily unwelcomed visitor, more disruption than help. And we would exit nostalgically, more longing when leaving than when we'd arrive. We swore each time that one day we'd be back. None of the players involved stood still. Each changed subtly but continually until they each become utterly different from whatever they were before. More than a decade has passed and returning won't recover even a minute of what's passed. We might be HeadingHomeward at last, but we're not naive enough to believe that we'll find home having patiently waited for our return. We'll have to make that memory into a present, into a home if we want that, most likely one little resembling the one we almost lost way back in '08 and '09.

The Heading's the thing. We're deriving trajectory. The idea, once so overwhelmingly alluring, seems mostly daunting now. I catch myself cowering before it, trying to slow it's increasingly inexorable crawl. I have unfinished business here, just as anyone does anywhere, business I never, in truth, intended to finish, but to just keep enqueued. Now that double-bind's revealed and I face an impending moment of truth. We inevitably abandon every house, leaving regrets behind. We move toward with varying passion. Some days, we could easily abandon the cause. Other days, we can't seem to wait to actually swallow the poison and go. Yesterday, out delivering Stollen, I suggested that we just keep going, head further north and over Owl Creek Pass into Wyoming, and never look back. The cats called me back, reminding me of my obligations. I can't just leave everything behind, regardless of how encumbering everything sometimes seems. One must drag a past into their dreams or they never have a chance of coming true. We have a Heading. I expect adventure to cavort with our indenture next. We're finally HeadingHomeward.

©2020 by David A. Schmaltz - all rights reserved

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