Road Foodie

Some people drive simply to arrive.

Ready or Not

Posted By on September 18, 2009

This dog would really prefer to stay at home.

This dog would really prefer to stay at home.

Catskill, NY to Erie, PA: 401 miles Two states: New York and Pennsylvania

My heart is breaking.

For the past few weeks, our hands have been like heat-seeking missiles, snaking out to find one another whenever the rest of us was close enough for access. Just like when the yellow pages required your fingers to do the walking, ours crept across the distance. We cleave together, sharing the same air, memorizing the close-up territory of the other’s face with a soft black and white muzzle in between. Eight-and-a-half years into our life as a couple, the prospect of a long separation pulls at the heart-strings until they twang in rueful protest.

Five years ago, when the bi-coastal lifestyle came into being, we always intended to make both drives together. And for about three years, we did. Then life—mostly work—began to get in the way. Quarter-, and half-trips were increasingly made by me alone. And now I am setting out to do the whole drive solo with no firm return date in mind. So much depends on so much. I used to trundle down the driveway in the expertly-loaded Toyota with wanderlust coursing strong in my veins. Now it just feels wrong. Perhaps when I hit the highway and cue up some road-centric tunes, I’ll get my road-legs back.

Everything is in its place. Except my partner.

Everything is in its place. Except C.

I’m on the way to Buffalo on I-90, and the U.S. Marines are a presence. I see proud bumper stickers and the following license plates: OOH RAH, and TEN HUT. I pass a large truck, upon whose very dusty rear door someone has finger-written: “ABC, NBC, CBS – Shame on you! Do your jobs, you biased A-holes!” As the miles begin to rack up with agonizing slowness, I’m surfing fretfully amongst a mixture of media (I’ve not yet relaxed into the Zen of Driving, so no one can hold my attention). I start off with the very first “BB Road Mix,” from 2005, which begins with Steppenwolf (“Get your motor runnin’…head out on the highway”), and continues in that vein. Then I touch down with CNN for bit. After a no-time-to-stop-and-search-out-local lunch-ortunities-style snack (yogurt-covered almonds, dried cranberries, and a Slim-Jim), I judge it time to start listening to my first audible book: Life Sentences, by Laura Lippman.
A report back from the first fifty pages...

A report back from the first fifty pages...

My actual, interactional reading at the moment is dominated by Cleaving: A Story of Marriage, Meat, and Obsession Julie Powell’s new book (in galley form—the actual release date is December 1). Second books are notoriously thorny, especially when they follow a break-out-successful first: expectations are, understandably, high, and what with Julie Powell’s precipitous rise from cubicle-bound blogger to book deal to the J/J movie and all, one imagines that knives have long been sharpening in anticipation of this particular release (which the studio delayed until the movie had had its chance to shine alone, unsullied). Within thirty pages, Julie has hooked me, in a fashion not unlike the one she elegantly uses to wield a meat hook: gently, expertly, and using force only when the tender bits are exposed. This is the kind of vein-opening writing that I gobble right up, and see far too infrequently. The writer who can mix personal imperfection (in the form of an adulterous affair, especially when the cheated-upon husband is known by all viewers of Julie and Julia to be a saint), self-deprecating humor, a love for and acrobatic facility with the written word, and devoted affection for pork, has my vote. (Plus, we share a butcher: Roadfoodie readers will remember soon-to-be famous Josh back when he was—inadvisably for a butcher, certainly—a vegan, and turned my squeamish sweetheart white as a sheet by prancing around Fleishers holding a severed pig-head in front of his own shouting “Squee-squee-squee.”)

Fie on the small-minded who may say she overshares: It takes huge guts to splay your own out on a slab and invite jealous writers and constipated critics to throw darts. Julie Powell (and let us remember now that this is the real person, not the two-dimensional character expertly portrayed by Amy Adams) is undeniably flawed, but cuts herself very little slack: she is infinitely harder on Julie than she is on a Flintstonian hunk of liver, which she lovingly places on a bloody block and gently carves with a scimitar (sic). PETA members, of course, need not apply, but those of us who choose to be carnivores should be mindful and respectful of the life that was given so we could put nourishing protein on the table, and there’s no better way to respect an animal than to know it—literally—inside out. I only wish the book were already in audible form, so I could keep reading while I drive. More on this later, when I have a chance to read on.


One Response to “Ready or Not”

  1. susan says:

    ohh…. so sorry about your obvious pain in leaving your beloved. it is tough when they(in my case) or you have to leave for a while.

    question, though. if leaving from catskill why not go a slightly southern route – 44/55 over to 17 which would take you through the southern tier to “dreary erie”? i went to school in fredonia, had a boyfriend from kingston, husband from poughkeepsie, worked in hudson and have a dearest friend in the catskill/kiskatom area. if in the buffalo area you really needed to stop at Schwabel’s for beef on ‘weck.

    hope you have some good time with your mom. yesterday was the 19th anniversary of my mom’s death. she was 63 and i was all of 36 – two years older than when she lost her own mom and twenty years older than when her mother lost her mother.

    love the blog. was out counting migrating raptors in nw nj so didn’t catch up with it till now

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