Postcards Written to my General Practitioner during a Cross-Country Road TripBy Meghan Maguire Dahn
September 07, 2009
Some people choose to write postcards primarily to their friends or family or significant others. Not me. I did the cursory correspondences to loved ones, but really, the person I was most keen to write to on my recent trip across the country was my general practitioner.
She’s looked after my health for my entire life.
When I was thrown into unfamiliar territory, it dawned on me that she probably knows me better than anyone else. She certainly, at any rate, knows more about my body than anyone else. The only other person that approximates that level of intimacy is my shrink, but, really, she just knows more than anyone else about what I think of myself.
Why not hang out that intimacy to air, I thought. And what better a place than here, with its meandering, awkward intimacies.
Here I am in L.A. There are oil rigs and palm trees and finally some relief from the rain.
I don’t think it’s probably worth the effort to adjust my sleeping patterns to Pacific Time, do you? I’ll just get up obscenely early and read my book. And remind myself every couple minutes not to eat this grapefruit.
I shouldn’t eat the grapefruit, should I?
Okay. I need to concentrate. More soon.
It takes some adjusting to, this total lack of overwhelming, verdant overgrowth to which one becomes accustomed in Connecticut. A friend of mine from the Pacific Northwest once said that it felt as if the Connecticut forests would consume you if you stayed still too long.
I, of course, pointed out that Rip Van Winkel was just fine. Sure, he was in the Catskills and not the Berkshires. And, sure, he spent the end of his days running around like a crazy man on the edge of civilization. But he was fine, right? Never consumed wholly by the woods.
So, the lack of green things has been a good reminder to stay well hydrated. I don’t think I’ve ever drank so much water in my life. You’d be so proud!
It seems to me that when doing travel of this scope (being in the changing landscape for 3,000 miles and days on end), you get stuck in cycles, making comparisons to home.
This behavior was perhaps at its most silly today in Las Vegas.
Look! Here’s an obvious simulation of the Brooklyn Bridge. On a sidewalk.
Well – you’ll be happy to know that we showed Sin City a little of the Land of Steady Habits. We drank our water, we had six-inch Subway sandwiches, and we applied our 70 spf sunscreen. And then we hit the road (at the speed limit, of course).
Take that, LV!
Hope this finds you well,
We’ve been trying to eat healthfully on the road. It’s not always easy, particularly in the middle of Utah, as it turns out. But we’ve found that Subway has done a good job franchising out into the most remote nooks of the country. And they have more vegetables than any of our other options.
We came across this place, where the employees were keen to talk about what a hazard deer are to truckers. I felt a complicated mix of feelings here. First of all, you know how aesthetically stimulating I find taxidermy to be. (Remember that time I tried to get you to speculate about it during my yearly? – always orchestrating situations that I imagine will make good poems…) Then, there was the nervousness I suddenly felt about potentially hitting a deer in Michelle’s car. And also, I felt slightly queasy – I blame all the clashing fonts and fluorescent lights.
It can’t be good to eat under that much agitation, can it?
Utah is gorgeous. We made good time yesterday and so we stopped today in Arches National Park. It was unrelentingly hot – the kind of hot that makes you lose track of your sense of time.
Lying with my back against the red rock in the shadow of one of the Window Arches, I started thinking about boredom. In German it’s langeweile – long time. I think it has kinder connotations than boredom. I can’t be sure about this, as I don’t speak German and no one knows the etymology of the English word, but it seems to me that the German has a way of accepting those instances when time slips into subjective experience.
As I was walking back to the car, I heard a couple from Florida (RV drivers) say, “It just makes you feel so small.” It could be that just as too much poetry can be dangerous (or at least Austen novels would have us believe), indulging too much in thoughts of scale can be too.
And so we’re off,
We stopped off at the Sod House Museum somewhere in the Nebraska.
I’m concerned about chiggers.
I’m writing to you from the World Famous Mustard Museum in Mount Horeb, Wisconsin.
I’ve been thinking a lot of stories Aaron would tell me of his childhood in Kansas as we’ve traveled through the middle of the country. Here, I’m thinking of the mustard rubs he said his nurse grandmother would give him. Now, I can see the potential use of a mustard poultice being similar to Vicks VapoRub or something, but a mustard rub? Into the skin?
Surely that would hurt.
I wonder about the use of pain. Would the mustard burns distract you from your chest cold?
My chest is blushing just thinking about it.
I’m writing to you this morning from a hotel in Youngstown, Ohio, on what is, I hope, the last day of our cross country journey.
Could you please explain to me the phenomenon that occurs when the bedbugs you imagine you feel crawling on you outweighs your desire for sleep?
I promise I haven’t been using crack.
It’s just hotels – I can’t believe they’re clean and so my mind runs away with me and suddenly I’m covered in unstoppable bugs, my eyes saucer-wide and staring at the ceiling.
It will be good to be back. If, in fact, there were bedbugs, I will be seeing you soon.
All my best,
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