There was something wrong with my throat when I woke up in New York on my last day in the Big Apple. I laughed it off over brunch, and only started to get worried while on my New Jersey bound train. If I was sick, it would throw everything off. Not just the trip but far more if it was serious. I had no insurance, it expired the night of my last day at SAIC. An illness could easily ruin a lot, not to mention my bank account.
But my red-headed aunt Mary was at the station when my train pulled in to Denville and everything was well with the world. That first evening I was treated to a lavish meal, courtesey of both Mary and uncle Rick. There have been many times on these long bus routes where I have thought of the steak I ate that night.
The next morning it was clear to me that I had a Sinus Situation on my hands. I didn't feel great at all, and I kep going back and forth between whether I was sick or just allergic to something. It was a maddening feeling, not knowing if I could or should continue my trip. It was particularly infuriating because my bus to Atlanta -- my next stop -- would not only pass through DC, but would stop there for over an hour. I could easily grab a cab back to m apartment in Virginia and rest up.
I discussed such things with Mary over what I can only describe as a "very cool breakfast." There was fresh fruit, eggs, and meat all eaten while a cool morning breeze blew off the lake. We ate on the porch, overlooking the lake. All the while Neil Young played on the stereo, my aunt humming along from time to time.
Because of my iffy health and the threat of thunderstorms, we decided to make it an easy day. Rick ha already left for work and Mary had business in town. I sat and read until the storm started.
It was swift and beautiful that storm. It blew in over the empty lake pushing a strong, cool wind through the entire house. And then the rain started, devilishly hard at first but eventually evening out into a steady patter. It felt like the whole woods and lake were collectively relieved as the rain cooled the ground and cleared the air.
I stood in the doorway of the porch, and felt I was cured of many things at once.
That night, Rick, Mary, and I had massive burritos, and we took a truncated tour of town. Of note was the house of a local provacatuer who had several run ins with local police and his neighbors over the lawn decorations that he puts up.
Lawn decorations is only one way to describe it. A giant fiberglass tiger crawling over an awning, a collection of animal statues, and a boat wedged magnificently in a tree pushed the limits of my ubderstanding of lawn art.
Needless to say, I was in love. Not only with this man's bombastic taste but also his audacity. When the police cracked down on him, the homeowner bought and restored a vintage cop car, painted "Thought Police" on the roof and frequntly parked it outside the local police station.
Is this immature and even a little reprhensible? Absolutlely. But I really like this guy. The world has far too many boring homes and predictable yards to require police intervention. Perhaps his passion could be better spent fighting greater ills, like homelessness, but I'm glad this man has taken a stand like this. It's not right to fault a man for following through on his passions and convictions. In addition to more interesting yards, I dare say we could use more people willing to be passionate about anything.
The afternoon of my last day, Mary drove me in to Newark. We grabbed a bite at the spectacular Hobby's Deli which had walls covered in letters from the corridors of power, giving thanks for pastrami on rye. A chief justice and An American diplomat spring to mind. Several large salami hung on the back wall, waiting to be sent to Iraq ad Afghanistan; a special treat for Soldiers abroad.
I boarded a bus and 20 some hours later was in Atlanta.
Location:U.S. 90,Lafayette,United States