Thursday, October 26, 2006

Many Rivers to Cross

I'm in, um, let's see, Portland this morning. Or, uh, no, wait, I think it's Albany. Was it Medford? I know I was in Yreka one night.

When you're on the road, the hotel room artwork and the Fire Escape Plan on the inside of the door and the gift-wrapped soap in the bathroom and the room air conditioner controls give you precious little information about where you are. A couple of cups of coffee later, and you shake your head out and remember stopping for gas and to glance at a map 50 miles ago when you came through the rest stop at Salem last night. You remember they were out of cookies at the check-in desk, but they still had popcorn. You remember you picked this place because it had a pool and an exercise room, then you dropped off to sleep like a log instead.

If you're lucky, you're parked somewhere with distinctive geography: You come out into the crisp morning air and see Shasta, or Old Faithful, or Mount Rushmore, or Lake Tahoe. Sometimes you just see flat brown plain as far as the horizon. Seeing some kind of hill whose shape you recognize gives your body the clues it needs to know which way is east and which is west and which one you're driving toward today.

Fortunately, we live in a world where it doesn't really matter where you are physically. The work is all in your mind, and in the connections you make with others.

Still, it's nice from time to time to know where you are when you wake up. If nothing else, it lets you know whether to expect biscuits and gravy for breakfast, or yogurt and a banana, or eggs and bacon.

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