Saturday, January 24

atypical adventuring

my Friday began as ordinarily as any Friday. I waited at bus stops, sat in my office prepping for class, eeked a few moments of good class discussion out of my students, talked about our Empirical readings and micro-studies. but inbetween all those things--as I walked across campus from here to there, as I rushed through the halls from office to classroom and back and forth, my insides were nuzzling up to a great and impatient longing for adventure. like burrs will collect on your trouser cuffs when you walk through an unkept field, adventurousness collected around me with every step I took that morning.
I didn't know what kind of adventure to look for. of course my imagination was swirling with the kinds you read about in fantasy novels: meeting mysterious figures with intriguing secrets--wandering up to an irresistibly inviting magical doorway--suddenly confronting some supernatural abnormality in grave need of investigation--getting gradually but totally lost on some other plane of existence-- you know.

that sort of thing seemed unlikely even for such a deeply ordinary Friday, so I realized I would probably need to plot my own excitements. they didn't include anything very supernatural. they weren't particularly hazardous or daring. they involved spending bunches of money at various random spots on my way home, and then a speck of a town called Buck Creek, and then an empty cornfield. let adventure be in the attitude of the adventurer.

first, I ducked into Von's books and acquired the $70 text I needed for my Empirical class. perhaps that was the most harrowing part of the day. the semi-grizzled old bookstore clerk was nice enough, though. book in hand, I poked through a few other shelves (of books, of hats, of coin purses, of beads and stockings and scarves and trinkets) while I was there. noticed Jessica Hische's dropcap covers all lined up on one side. stepped around an employee sorting through a massive pile of aqua pendants and baubles on my way out. kept walking, very cheerfully, taking in all the grey chill of the weekend-to-be, thinking about how it didn't really matter what I spent the rest of the afternoon doing. we'd gotten out of class early. I had no particular obligations.
on my way, I grabbed chips and guacamole from Chipotle. I puzzled at their little posted sign about not having any pork while I waited, and then waltzed out, munching (probably awkwardly) my way from there to town across the pedestrian bridge. the river was completely thawed, all the grimy-looking, jagged chunks of ice from a few days earlier were gone.

before I got home, I wandered into the candy store on Main Street. last year I made it a tradition to buy myself chocolates from this lovely shop at all ends of all semesters, but fall of 2014 left me no time. so on this adventuresome Friday, I made up for it. raspberry cremes, caramel truffles, dark chocolate everything.

it was a long walk from there to my apartment, mainly because I wouldn't let myself eat any chocolates yet. once home, I unladened myself of books and bags, tossed some trail mix + a few cookies and chocolates into a container, and took my car out of its lonely parking spot for a drive. going on drives without destinations is not usually a thing I do. the newness of such an activity gives it at least a few extra adventure points, I say.

we went north, mainly. east-ish, sometimes. west-ish other times. I think. I never once looked at the map in my back seat. my sense of direction has no reliable anchor out here in this flat place. no mountains, no visible-from-everywhere landmarks. the sun wasn't even shining. in the face of such a horizon of nothingness, I trusted a few roadsigns and knew that if I needed it, that GPS I got from my brother for Christmas was right there.
but I didn't need it. maybe that's a sign of failure. I didn't let my adventure get me lost enough. or maybe it's a sign of awesomeness--that I have at least partially, subconsciously, mastered the Indiana landscape within a certain radius of where I live. or maybe both.

I still haven't looked at a map to see where exactly my meandering drive led me. my mental map would say my path traces something like a wonkily stretched-out figure eight with prongs. way out to the northeast, around in a bit of a circle across highway 25, and then back west to where I started recognizing things. like this absolutely striking one-lane bridge over the Wabash:
months and months back, friend Priya and I got lost here, too. we were looking for the Wabash Heritage Trail but we kept missing it, for some reason. we had a glorious time anyway, and there was ice cream afterwards.
I knew where I was at this point, but it was still too early to go home. so I turned north again. and then east again. there were acres and acres of half-frozen fields. cornstalk stubs prickling from the ground for miles. I pulled over and sat in the middle of all that for a while, rolled down the window, listened, waited, hoped nobody thought I was crazy or stranded or lost.
only one (nice-looking, scruffy, young-ish) farmboy slowed down his massive truck to make sure I was alright. a few other cars drove by, adding an unfortunate layer of self-consciousness to my sitting. I regret not bringing a notebook. I could have soaked in that nowhere till it got dark. wouldn't that have been nice?

instead, I returned to the road, wound my way a few inches north, back south, further west, and west, and then southwest, southsouth, southeast, and back to town. home. I rolled out some pie crust and folded it over some turkey-pot-pie-ish filling. I continued snacking on trail mix. I put on a show and pulled out my embroidery floss. I am making my own version of one of Gina's handstitched hats.

the rest of my evening was not quite as expansively calm as an empty cornfield. but it was cozy. I didn't save the world or anything, but I'm calling it all an adventure anyway.

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