The last week of August, right before school started, I drove up to Anne's Town to see my birth-mother. I stayed there for about three days, taking in local sights and Anne's very good cooking.
I was very proud of myself for making the drive, as it was (and is) the farthest I had ever gone alone, a route that took me across four states. Here are some pictures:
My first night there, Anne made me, upon request, some delicious chicken noodle soup (I like this wherever I go, and Anne's is particularly satisying).
The finished product was very tasty.
During my first full day there we took a walk about Anne's Town, frequenting first a coffee shop, then a candy store that sells homemade chocolate.
Following this, we went to an art gallery.
The paintings were done by a woman Anne knows, and many depicted the Anne's Town area. I particularly liked these:
After a busy day, we returned to Anne's quiet house, where we relaxed for the rest of the night.
The next day, I decided to embark on a perilous mission: getting a haircut. Now, I love having long hair almost more than I can say, and its growth has been a source of constant delight to me over the last year or so.
However, in deciding to completely forego any maintenance at all (my last haircut before this August was in November of 2007), I'd opted for length at the sake of quality. I had all kinds of split ends and the bottom of my hair often looked fried and unhealthy if I did not apply a considerable amount of gel.
I am a blonde, yet the hair growing at the back of my neck, suffocated beneath a thick sheaf of gold, had taken on a brown and matted aspect. I knew that I'd have to take off quite a bit, something I prepared myself for.
Not knowing exactly how much I would need to cut, I took some pictures that morning to memorialize what I knew might soon be nothing but a recollection.
Then we headed over to the home studio/salon of my mother's friend Stylist Man (a talented stylist), and the shearing began.
When it was all over, a lot of hair lay on the floor, but not enough to qualify as a disaster.
Here is what it looks like now:
For a reference point, compare these two ponytails:
For the record, I am aware that this looks unbelievably stupid. I know. I anticipated it happening, but made the decision to go ahead anyway as I thought that the longterm benefit would outweigh the shorterm embarrassment.
My head currently has the appearance of a large yellow mushroom, or, if I tie my hair back, of a somewhat oblong Swedish football with a blonde stump attached to the back.
However, hair does grow. I can't wait for mine to, and now when it does get long again, it will be full, healthy, golden, and easy to look at. I won't have to slather gel into it or drown it with conditioner just to make it presentable.
Today, at least so far as texture is concerned, I can get up, run a comb through it, and go. Of course, given its temporary length and shape, some other aids are required, but for entirely different reasons than before.
After my haircut, we went to see a sprawling Decaying State valley.
We then paid a visit to my eccentric but brilliant eighty-year-old grandmother, whose house, we like to joke, is almost as old as she is (sections of the building were constructed some three centuries ago; given her cheerful but decidedly patrician demeanor, we do not make these remarks in front of her).
My grandmother is old in so many different senses of that word: old in age; old in time; old in the customs and habits inherited through Scandinavian ancestors; old in the collective story built upon since the days of our ancient forebears, which she carries and to which she has now contributed; old in the wisdom and common sentiments of an age long lost; old in the magical way of the unreachable past.
Her home is littered with fragments of history, from the iron pots hung on ceiling rafters more than a century before her birth that have been left there even though their practical purpose (which I cannot even guess at) has been obsolete for over a hundred years, to the mahogony chest brought from Sweden by aristocratic ancestors, to the birth certificates of various relations, to medals won by her father in the Spanish-American War, to endless stacks of books.
My grandmother is well in touch with many dimensions of the past, present, and future.
Her own death, which she knows given her age can only be forestalled for so much longer, doesn't seem to frighten her in the least.
I will mourn her, though; with her will die a tremendous reserve of wit and knowledge.
After an hour or two there, I went back to Anne's for one more night, then drove home on Monday morning.
I will return with Powell in November, and am greatly looking forward to the trip. Anne is interesting, artistic and fun. Any excursion to see her is bound to be enriching, in one way or another.