What I forgot to tell you...
This post is dedicated to Jeff Vanevenhoven, who sponsored the route from Waukegan, IL to Kenosha, and to Jeff again and Christina Dickinson, who sponsored the final ride into Milwaukee.
What I forgot to tell you is the condensed intensity of the final two days of this trip, beginning with the headwinds greeting me up the coast on the ride to Kenosha, where 84-year-old Lois was waiting on the sidewalk at Harborside Common Grounds coffee shop, having heard about my arrival on Facebook. She wasn't even planning on typing, but after I set up the Remington at one of the tables on the deck and told her about the prompt for the day - "And then," she lowered herself into the chair and began typing. A line into her story, she called her husband Tom on the phone and asked him to come over. It turns out she'd never used a typewriter before, and was having trouble punching the keys. Within five or 10 minutes, Tom arrived and I sat next to them sipping an iced coffee while they wrote the story of their adopted daughter.
What I forgot to tell you about Jen coming from Sleepy Hollow and Celeste returning to Decatur and Grace making the trip up and back to the Milwaukee airport to deliver Amy, who'd been my publicist extraordinaire and was coming in for the finale. I forgot to tell you about the view from the deck and the squeal from behind and about reunions and about the 61 years that Lois and Tom had been married, and the sea breeze smell in the air as if we were almost in Miami, and later, in Milwaukee, drinks at the rooftop bar at the Pfister Hotel and the feeling of utter luxury to see a city from the 23rd floor, and then more arrivals, Terri and Julie and Jeanette, and how suddenly a road trip for two turned into 8, and the dinner at La Merenda and the walk back and the warm evening and the songs belted out, and bare feet coming out of heels and fast friendships and laughter laughter laughter into the night.
What I forgot to tell you was the walk to breakfast the next morning and the humble waiter and the stuffed French toast and lemon poppyseed pancakes. What I forgot to tell you was the quick bike ride to the other side of the river and Patricia who came out of nowhere and found me at the corner of State St. and 4th at the typewriter plaque outside the offices of the Journal Sentinel, and the story of her survival, and the way she worked with such purpose and patience, one struck key at a time, and the wind that morning and the coolness in the air, like early spring, and Krystina from the paper who turned off the microphone for a little while because she just wanted to listen in, and the tears that came involuntarily, and the t-shirt I wore - a gift from Amy - suffused with bicycles, and the flip flops instead of bike shoes and how it felt, in some way and for the first time, like vacation.
What I forgot to tell you was the swim in the glass-walled pool on the 23rd floor and the quick change to Discovery World and Jesse, who'd written the sweet article in the Journal Sentinel after many conversations over the phone, coming to find me to deliver the paper, and Michele and Jacqueline and the 69-year-old runner whose father had once been the mayor and the Kohl's photo shoot happening downwind and the trio of young women who came rollerblading by.
What I forgot to tell you was the ride to Boswell Books an hour later in a black dress and wedge shoes, and chalk drawings and hopscotch and a tray with a mound of cookies on it and boxes of coffee and a small crowd gathering on the sidewalk and juggling and Judith who brought her typewriter, and the woman who'd almost met the Dalai Lama, and Wisconsin Public Radio, and more typists drifting in, and two hours on the sidewalk bursting with an indescribable happiness, and then inside, folding chairs filled, and me at a lectern, fishing out stories, seeing Grace in the back and wanting everyone to know how impossible this would have been without her, and how lonely, and reading a blog post that almost made me cry, and the faces in front of me, rapt, and questions and musings and meditations and reflections and a poem from June 5 and applause and farewell and dinner at Roots that made our mouths drop and the climb to the RV roof for sparklers and then another farewell and falling asleep in my dress and wondering if I'd dreamed it all and knowing that I hadn't.
What I forgot to tell you was the inevitable strangeness of leaving, hoisting the bike and the trailer inside and the ride to the airport for another farewell and then reversing the RV out of the airport and the quiet hours on the freeway to Chicago and beyond, and now, just past Toledo with a full driving day ahead, and the beginnings of what next on my mind, and the sound of morning birds, again, reminding me not to worry, to take it as slow as I need to, and how I'm going to do my best to manage the return with kindness and self-care, and I hear Grace stirring in the back bedroom and it's time for coffee and it is all going to turn out exactly as it's supposed to and there's a book waiting to be filled with stories and I'm going to write it.