Miami, FL / Carrie St. George Comer

Tomorrow I get on a plane headed to Durham, NC, where I’ll meet up with up with the Poetry Bus. I’ve never been to Durham. I’ve never ridden a poetry bus. I am afraid. No. Maybe I am. The poetry bus, I suspect, will be populated by people with thoughts. (Remember thoughts?) And I haven’t been around people like that in a long time. I teach at a university. I teach freshmen how to write, and hopefully, how to have thoughts. Because they don’t. Or at least, that’s how I’m feeling as we reach the mid-semester drag. And now I am going away, abandoning my students to figure out this thought thing on their own so that I can rejoin the world of thinkers. Try to think. The world of unkempt (candid bus shots don’t lie) people who circle the nation on buses reading their thoughts to midshipmen.

I don’t want to be a freak. I don’t want to be one of the nuts that spills out of this well-marked bus and onto the sidewalk of someone’s town center. But like it or not, I am one. I am among them and of them and there’s no fixing that. Sweet. Bitter sweet. When I board the bus Saturday morning, I return to freaksville, to the thinking world, where the unexplained and the inexplicable are understood. I hear some people on the bus (no names) are going the way of the loon. Sounds exciting. I’m going to bring them some rum. Some Miami rum.

I will miss my husband, Ben, and my baby girl, Evelyn. Her first birthday is October 18th. I feel guilty, sure, but mostly sad at the thought of being away from home for so long. I love my home. And I’m not a couch surfer, not anymore. So yes, I am ever so slightly afraid. And yet I keep catching myself thinking I’m going in for some kind of restorative treatment. A spa, of sorts, where I might return me to me. The me of several years ago. The freaky one. The one that thinks she thinks.

I’ve been to Asheville, but not Athens. I’ve been to Tuscaloosa (I’m from Birmingham) and New Orleans. New Orleans—what will it be? I’ve got the best leg, I’m sure of that. And I’m going with Zapruder and Beckman, cool. I’ll see Dara Wier and David Roderick, cool. And I’ll meet some people, cool. I don’t know where these guys will be tomorrow when I get in. They never said where to meet them. So I guess I’ll just walk around looking for the big red letters? Much like an idiot would do. Sounds good.

So North Carolina. I’m thinking lakes, boots, soup. I’m thinking of being cozy. Holing up, bedding down, nesting. I am thinking it’s cold there, colder than here. In Miami, it’s easy to slip away from the life of the mind. And I do, with pleasure. The sun shines, the palms sway, the lizards scatter. We have wind chimes. My brain is soft and softer. So I turn to the poetry bus. I hope it will solve all my problems, whatever those problems are.

I’m not sure anymore.

The bus, yes. I love the road. I love to watch the yellow lines slip under the hood. I love it when it gets dark outside, and the sun sets behind the chain link. And I love thinky people. And I love poems, much of the time. So yeah, the poetry bus, I’ll be with them soon.

Originally Published: October 6th, 2006