Van Down By The River

I can’t shake it.  It’s all I can think about this week.  I have a new life plan, and includes the following:

Airstream trailer.  Place by the river.  A teeny tiny writer’s retreat.

I’ve been fantasizing about the Airstream for years.  I think the best possible use of my architecture degree will be to trick out my Airstream with all kinds of swank, modern details.  It will be warm and inviting inside, with lots of wood and some great mod print fabrics.  My disco ball will hang over the front door.  The whole setup will be in a shady grove of trees, down by the Haw River.  I’ll start with weekends there, and edge up to three days a week, then four.  I’ll spend my river days doing creative things, and entertaining friends with fabulous meals cooked in my rustic outdoor kitchen, with food from my vegetable garden.  I’ll kayak.  I’ll find a handsome man to keep me company, and we’ll play guitars under the Airstream awning in rocking chairs and watch the seasons change.  I’ll write songs.  I’ll sketch.  I’ll be the girl living in a Van Down By The River.  And I will love it.

On a seemingly unrelated note, I found this today:

It was on the sidewalk outside of Morning Times, which is an unlikely place for a guitar pick.  And it was on the last day of a month in which music has pretty much overtaken me: listening, playing, attending.  Whose pick is it? Why was it there?  Neither of those questions is important.  What does it mean? seems to be the more important question.

Which is ridiculous.  It’s just a guitar pick on a sidewalk.  Walking around town, there are weirder things all over the place which demand your attention.  (Like, for example, the nice woman who borrowed my cell phone on the street last week to call her boyfriend to pick her up from her seventeen-day stint in jail.  “You know, honey, I’m in front of the bail bonds shop.  Right across the street from where we turned myself in.”  She was the happiest person I met all week.)  However, I’m an English major, and I just can’t let anything go.  It’s part nature, part nurture.  You know Jay Gatsby’s green light at the end of the dock? Not about maritime safety.  Captain Ahab?  Looking for more than a whale.  James Joyce’s snow “falling faintly through the universe and faintly falling”? Heavens. There is a whole semester of metaphor in that.

So I am always looking for signs, or metaphors, or at least a good recurring motif.  A few months back, I mentioned that a playing card had attached itself to my friend Julia’s knee, out of nowhere.  We spent days on that.  Last Sunday, I walked out of Local 506 with Willow, and there was an entire exploded deck of playing cards, in the street by her car.  My eyes got really big.  I had to pick one up as evidence.  It was in the street, so I made a hasty decision, but I collected one and took it back to my car.  And then I started laughing, because out of the whole deck on the street, I had of course chosen The Joker.

I told Julia this story tonight and then her eyes got really big.  “The Joker? For real?? You couldn’t have picked a Jack of Hearts or a King of Diamonds? Anything, anything but The Joker?”  I laughed until I cried a little.  Or maybe I cried a little and laughed really hard. It’s all a blur.  So I’m thinking, sometimes there are signs that you can’t miss, but most of the time, we make our own signs, and attach our own meanings to them, because deep down we already know what we really want.

I’m throwing back the Joker. But I’m keeping the guitar pick.  And I’m getting the Airstream. Someday.  Sooner rather than later.  I’ll save you a seat under the awning.

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9 Responses to Van Down By The River

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  6. Tracy says:

    Also, hearing the master say “So you want to be a writer? Well la-dee-dah!” at 6:15 am on a Saturday, when I got up early to work on a manuscript in peace? About made me spit coffee all over my keyboard. I thank you. Back to it!

    • Glad you liked the clip- I had forgotten about the “so you want to be a writer?” part too. I think I pulled a muscle laughing. I’m so excited about your manuscript- did I hear that there was a writers’ conference last weekend? Keep me posted, I’m cheering you on!

  7. Tracy says:

    Love this! Happy to go halfsies on the Airstream. Didn’t see you at CCL but was pretty sure you were there — magic, magic, magic.

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