Bloomsday

I get up hungry and dig in my bags for my poptarts. Last package, I’ll have to stop at a grocery store today. Picking up the bound compilation of National Geographic magazines from the year 1930 from the floor beside my bunk, I sit at the table randomly opening it to an article about Tibet. There, in black and white, is a Tibetan monk beside a river with his prayer board: five or six brass representations of Buddha fixed to a long wooden paddle. “Making images in the water,” the article says, the monk attains merit in his religion. I eat three poptarts, skipping through the article, marveling at the pictures, then carefully place the book back in it’s place on the National Geographic shelf, beneath the skull with the missing teeth, that surely isn’t real.

Packing up my things, Chet the hostelkeeper, knocks on the door and asks if I want coffee. Pouring it, he tells me the storm last night knocked down a tree and the police have barricaded the road his mailbox sits on; he wonders if his morning paper made it past the barrier. I ask if he’d like me to check and I bring it back to him.

I finish packing, take a couple of pictures and say goodbye to Chet as his son and grandson arrive to help him replace a rotting beam in the barn.

The morning is cool and gray. I ride into town and stop at a Dunkin Donuts, still hungry. Yesterday really took it out of me. I order the two doughnut and coffee combo from a middle aged woman who takes my order while pouring coffee from four feet to the side of the counter. She asks me to repeat my doughnut choices.

I sit at a table to the side of the counter, figuring mileage and planning. I call the hostel in Littleton to check cost and availability. The Dunkin Donuts girl with a nude pixie, great-winged, tattooed on her ample calf, stares at me. I decide to make reservations at a hotel in Boston.

I have to step outside. Too loud. I make the desk agent of the Best Western Back Bay Boston repeat their rate. I’d never imagined a Best Western could charge over two hundred dollars a night for a room. The Howard Johnson was far more reasonable, but still a little high. I look a closer at my Google map, and tap the pin of the Oasis Guest House, closer than any of the others to the Museum of Fine Arts, and I like the name. Their website is unpretentious and advertises satellite television, cleanliness, and a state-of-the-art phone system. And they have rooms with shared bathrooms. Perfect. I call and reserve a room for Wednesday and Thursday. Have to use my bankcard, they don’t take Discover. I think I’ll call home to get the numbers for the Mastercard I left behind for use in case of cat emergency later and have them change it. I’d rather hold onto a chunk of cash that large until the end of the trip if possible.

I pull out of Oxford, MA feeling satisfied with my plans for the next few days, the sun starting to peek between the clouds. I am back, riding through the rich simplicity of nature. An oriole blazing in almost-pink orange, stutters by. Getting warm, I stop in a Land Surveyor’s driveway to remove my jacket, take a picture of his sign, and take pleasure in his pride in profession.

A little further down the road I see a sign for a state park that I’d seen a pamphlet for at the hostel. I stop in front of the road leading to it, take pictures, and consider veering off to explore it. But I dig out my ear buds and put Bob Dylan on instead. I am pedaling hard and singing loudly to traffic coming at me and speeding by:

“Thunder on the mountain, fires on the moon
There’s a ruckus in the alley and the sun will be here soon
Today’s the day, gonna grab my trombone and blow
Well there’s hot stuff here and it’s everywhere I go”

I am apart, alive and sublime. The cars keep rolling by.

“I was thinkin’ bout Alicia Keys, couldn’t keep from cryin’
But she was born in Hell’s Kitchen, I was livin’ down the line
I’m wonderin’ where in the world Alicia Keys could be
I’ve been lookin for her even clear through Tennessee.”

And I think of the interview I’d read where Bob said that he’d seen Alicia Keys perform at the Grammy’s and had thought to himself “there ain’t nothin about that girl I don’t like.” And then I think of a more recent interview where he’d referred to the names, her’s and Neil Young’s, that he’d dropped in songs recently as types, people who represented a particular idea to him. And I think about another point in the same interview where he said he wasn’t really a relationship guy, that his breed of mysticism relied on being wild and lonesome, finding spirits in the landscape.

And I think of Johnny Cash’s song about a country boy who marries a city girl only to have to leave her to return to the country. And I wonder why I held on to all these details, and why they come rushing at me in this particular way.

Then I get to Northbridge and I have to pee. I stop at a gas station but they don’t have a restroom. Common problem in the Northeast. They suggest I try the pizza place across the street. A sign on the window advertises fish’n’chips, and I think that’s novel, and I think I could eat again. And, afterall, it’s a holiday: Bloomsday, James Joyce’s day, celebrating a regular day in a regular life and all the glorious details that accompany it and endow it with the grandeur that the everlasting moment that is today, yesterday, tomorrow, and so on, deserves.

I place my order and sit down to write this. The local news, and then soap operas blare in the background. Some kids on Summer break, have sodas, make phone calls, try to gather enough cohorts to play rugby, curse profusely a while and then leave.

The moment goes on. And I go with it.

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2 Responses to “Bloomsday”

  1. Mom Says:

    This is another especially good blog! Your thoughts speak to me.

  2. Kady Says:

    I always enjoy your photos, it allows your readership to travel as well.

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