A few years ago, one of my relatives came to visit and phoned ahead to ask for directions to my house from Interstate 70. Take 435 South, I replied. Get in the left lane, and take the first left exit. It’s called 350 / 63rd Street, Raytown.
My relative thought for a few minutes in silence. I’ve been that way, came the answering remark. There’s no such exit. I assured my relative that such an exit exists. In response I heard an even stauncher insistence of my error. We went back and forth for a few minutes until I finally said, Well, if that exit isn’t there, then continue on 435 and take the first right, which is probably Gregory and will take you through Swope Park. My surrender brought instant appeasement.
Last night I made the slight uphill swoop to the left off 435 onto the 350 / 63rd St – Raytown Road exit, then descended onto 63rd street and turned right, as the strains of Studio 360 faded into the surrealness of Night Tides. I adjusted both speed and radio volume downward to make the last few miles of my journey on city streets accompanied by violins and angelic voices.
A few minutes earlier, Kurt Andersen had played a brief excerpt from an old interview with Edward Albee to commemorate the playwright’s recent death. My son and I share high regard for Albee, so hearing Albee’s voice as I made my way from St. Louis back to Kansas City after rendezvousing in my birthtown with Patrick seemed appropriate. I thought for the thousandth time of the words of A Zoo Story with which one of its two characters shares a lesson with the other: Sometimes you have to come a long way out of the way to come a short way properly.
I pulled into my driveway, cut the engine, and let silence settle. I could see our little dog snuffling the fenceline, waiting for me. The night air crept into the cabin of the vehicle, soothing my stiffened muscles. After so many days of journeying, it seemed I had come back to a place that for a while more at least, I can call home.
It’s early on the morning of the twenty-sixth day of the thirty-third month of My Year Without Complaining. Life continues.