So, we actually reached escape velocity this weekend and left for Brattleboro, Vermont after dark on Friday night. It was snowing like mad to the south of us, but none of this weather was bold enough to touch us. I was grateful that something worked out for us, after the notoriously hideous luck that trailed me like a violent poltergeist all through last year.

We took my 2009 Corolla, armed with a variety of strategies to keep it from accelerating out of control should it decide to go rogue on us. With Eleasa’s confidence behind the wheel, it was a relatively quick 3-hour trip peppered liberally with loud gangsta rap and coffee and a small container of canteloupe. A strange little building in Massachusetts served as a rest stop along the way, with cold, empty parking lots winding around it, and a plethora of vending machines offering up ice cream and coffees (which were apparently far below substandard, but serviceable enough to keep our driver awake until we traversed the final leg of the trip). My eyes will not allow me to drive at night, and my stomach will not allow me to drink coffee with any regularity, so I feel like I’m missing out on some vital aspects of feeling alive. I used to dream of being a trucker, before I could drive, and these dreams have since become impossible for these two reasons.


Our hosts, Eleasa’s grandparents, live in a converted 1800s schoolhouse, with many of the wooden beams and structures still in place. Categories of books lined just about every wall in dark shelves. An entire wall of travel books greeted us at the entrance, followed by a low wall of cookbooks in the kitchen, and many books about boats and medical topics. Her grandmother, ‘Nona’, has spent a life freelance writing about food and travel, and has the evidence all around the amazingly adorned little house. This is a woman who is good friends with Lois Lowry and has hung out with the Carters. A small clock with visible gears chimed dull, atmospheric, ever so slightly uneven chimes every half hour. Spidery plants cast shadows from the front windows during daylight hours, and the stairs creaked wonderfully.

Her grandfather Herb, not biological, but through a third marriage, is a man in his late 80-somethings who still runs in 5k races and owns a 100-acre maple syrup farm in a portion of Vermont which is slightly more upstate. They are both amazing people, patient and happy, and they give me an entirely new perspective on aging, and finding joy and contentment.


Brattleboro is an old mill town, is featured prominently in an HP Lovecraft story, and houses the old Estey Organ factory. After an evening of drinking from a vast cabinet of interesting alcohols (which I abstained from), and sleeping until daylight was in full force the next day, we all headed out for a tour of the impossibly windy roads that comprise the town. The town is mixed with older structures, ski jumps and many bookstores – one with an Edward Gorey theme proudly displayed in their front window. Eleasa called me excitedly from across the street and told me that I had to come and see it right away, full of small skeletons and copies of Alan Moore’s Swamp Thing signed by Steve Bissette. I bought a Paul Hornschemeier hardcover called ‘Mother Come Home’, and we stocked up on huge armloads of Indian food which I could not pronounce from a cash-only convenience store – some of which we used to tide us over until dinner, and the rest put into a box for Eleasa’s later enjoyment. I also bought the obligatory ‘maple’ product that everyone is compelled to return home from Vermont with – the object of choice being a small jar of maple mustard which I’ll need to work up the fortitude to try, though I assume it’s something akin to honey mustard. I also purchased a small shotglass for Shakti, who aspires to collect a shotglass from every state. This accompanies the one which I purchased from my stopover in Georgia on my way to Chicago this past summer.

We spent the evening at a small Yucatan restaurant, which was simple and delicious. Nona had actually spent a fair amount of time in Yucatan, and was pleased with the authenticity of the food.


When we got back, I was asked if I liked The New Yorker. Being a New Yorker, and something of an amateur intellectual, it’s one of my favorite magazines. I was despondent when our library cut off their subscription two years ago because they did not circulate amongst the general bottomfeeding redneckery of my town, despite the fact that I read it every day over lunch. I was given two years worth of New Yorkers which were headed towards the recycling – a good portion of the ones I had missed, and I read them excitedly under lamplight until midnight passed. I learned all about a neurological disorder which causes people to eat their own hands and pull apart their faces, and sabotage as much of their lives as possible (which I now want to paint, somehow), and understood a whole lot about some of the superficial, asinine awards given out in the art world. Having just submitted artwork to the 2010 Eustace Tilley contest, it felt like things had come in sync, somehow.

I enjoyed a tour of all of the artwork in the house, much of it by friends and family. I’m usually not a fan of ‘wall’ artwork, but this was a house filled with intelligently chosen, wonderful artworks from all genres – abstracts, illustrative prints, charcoal drawings. All of it said something, and expressed a deep personality. Maybe I was just especially receptive due to the warmth of the house, but I enjoyed it all tremendously. I came away inspired by the colors.

Eleasa expertly made us an elaborate breakfast on Sunday, and after much more reading of The New Yorker, I loaded them into the car, as well as out small amount of luggage, and new boxes of food, and shook hands and hugged goodbye. I was welcomed back anytime. In fact, they seemed to want me to come visit sooner rather than later. I’m so unaccustomed to welcoming grandparents, as I’ve spent a life with a couple who have palpitations should company even be suggested, and the delicate facade of normalcy and pristine cleanliness doesn’t have enough time to be woven.

It was a beautifully simple weekend, reading in the sunlight, being obligated to nothing, meeting incredible people and enjoying the company of a wonderful human tornado of a girl.

I am back home again, with a renewed sense that it is never too late, accompanied by sense of wanting everything to happen right away. I’ve waited long enough.