Very few distractions lie between Fayetteville, Arkansas, and my little airplane bungalow in Brookside, here in Kansas City.
I brunched with my friends Carla and Molly today, 15 June 2014, after two days of basking in the tender mercies of Brian Aldridge and his sweet wife Trudy MacDonald Aldridge. I needed this break: The stresses of life had triggered a raging outbreak of shingles such as I have not suffered since going on a maintenace dose of anti-viral medication two years ago. Friday to Sunday with old friends and new, people who — like others, here — love me without reservation, calmed my jangled nerves and restored my inner peace.
As I turned north on I-49, I promised myself a detour or two at flea markets, should I spy any open along the road. I missed one as I drew close to Bella Vista, for it sat to my left and my attention had been snared by signs threatening the end of the freeway. It flashed past me, a promising row of antique shops, but I told myself that I’d see more, assuming I did not run out of highway and have to turn around.
As it happens, “FREEWAY ENDING” only meant that we would lose the rapidity of limited access and a center parkway for a dozen miles. I kept my eyes divided between traffic and curb, alert to any shops. 49 ran through a lovely stretch of undeveloped land including a park or maybe a golf course — verdant and lush, as it cut through the last stretch of Arkansas. Beautiful but unbroken, not by stores or houses.
A few miles into Missouri, I had about given hope and was thinking about coffee and a restroom when a billboard promised THE TWO BEST FLEA MARKETS ON THE HIGHWAY. I shot over to the righthand land and exited, turned right, went for the block which the sign instructed, and turned at the roadside banner beckoning me on, two blocks south. A mile and a half later, I began to feel as though I’d entered the Twilight Zone and cast a suspicious eye in the rear view mirror. Had that SUV followed me? I turned rapidly, two sharp lefts and a right, and made my way back to the access road. I found a clean-looking gas station and pulled into the handicapped space. I’d lost him, thankfully.
I only saw one other sign for a likely place to junk shop before the dog-leg at I-44. The sign seemed professional, maybe even supplied by the Highway Department, and encouraged me to exit, cross under the highway, and take the overpass a half mile. After three miles, I made a U-turn at the Barton County Electric Cooperative and headed back to I-49.
I rummaged in the console and found several CDs that still play in my Saturn’s cantankerous player. Before spanning the entrance ramp, stopped at a red light waiting to turn, I started the first one. As I accelerated into traffic, Bonnie Raitt filled the car. She, John Prine, Joni Mitchell, and Neko Case took me home.
Unloading the car took less than ten minutes. I started a load of laundry, put the weekend’s newspapers straight into recycle, and rummaged in the cloth bag from the Fayetteville Public Library to gingerly extract the treasures that I brought back with me. I put the bowl and pot that Trudy made at her art class on my dining room table. I found a lovely photo of my mother-in-law, sweet Joanna, for the tiled frame that I got for a dollar at a clutter-shop. I placed it on my buffet next to the glass angel which Trudy bought me at another place, during our afternoon together on Saturday. I stood back, surveying the results, changing the angel slightly, adjusting the bowl. Satisfied, finally, I locked the house up again and came out to Panera’s for a salad.
They’re playing jazz on Satellite radio and a couple of little girls are running around, giggling and calling to each other in their frilly pink dresses and sparkly hairbands. The sun is setting, casting a lovely glow on the room around me. The salad refreshes me. The place is cool and clean. It’s Sunday night, the day before a new work week starts, and I’ve taken the long way home.
Glad you took that route–the long way that is! Sounds like you are refreshed–hope so. Sending love~CC
( Yucky shingles–is pain subsiding? )
i’m much better, thank you, dear!!!!
I have slowly perhaps rapidly fell in love with your writing. We live in Rio Vista, Ca.
Thank you for your unabashed willingness to share.
You humble and honor me with your kind words. Thank you.