Wednesday, August 22, 2012

Back on the Farm

Sometime in late April, I recall turning to Kirk and saying, "I think this might be the last relaxing day I have until maybe November." 

So far, I'm right.

Since the winds of change started to gather in early May, the gas pedal of my life as been stuck on the floorboard - on cruise control but without that mellow, cruise-y feeling.


Yesterday, I arrived back home to SCRANCH a little after 1 a.m., it was so dark (and there are no streetlights way out here) that I had to check the GPS on my iPhone to make sure I was making the right turn onto our property.

After the seven comedy improv shows for Smile Train (final fundraising number will come later this week) and the joy of getting together with old friends, favorite animals and dear family, I was truly whipped. I gave a short speech at the beginning of every show but in some, I performed, while others, I hosted. I also laughed, a LOT. I gave out a ton of energy and got that same energy in return, which I then tried to volley back in the form of gratitude.

All this was exhausting, and I had never really recovered from New York before I left. So naturally, I also got a cold and a visit from Aunt Flo on top of that; it all felt like I was barely hanging on to the tail of a very energetic tiger.

So, on Monday morning, I got up early, eyes still bleary, and tried to get as much done as I could before I had to leave for the airport. 'Don't worry,' I kept telling myself, 'you can sleep all you want on the planes home.'

But there were setbacks. Taking the giant bag of donated bills and change to the bank, I was told: "We don't have a change machine here. You'll need to go the bank on 52nd and Vance." 

"Fine," said I, "but can you tell me why you are taking money out of my savings account?"

I was then ushered into a mini-office where a nice young man did some rearranging for me. It was during this time that I received a text that Phyllis Diller had passed, an incredible woman that I knew. I wouldn't say we were "friends" but friendly acquaintances, at least.

Phyllis was 95 so it was a fantastic run for a life well lived. Still, I knew immediately that there would be no sleeping on the plane - I had put 'dibs' on writing the Phyllis remembrance with our entertainment editor about six months prior. (I had even thought about pre-writing up a tribute 'just in case' she passed, but that felt creepy so I'd have to write it fresh.)

I didn't think I was that upset about her death until, after finally leaving the second bank (the one with the amazing coin machine), I found myself lazily driving the wrong way down a one-way street. All that honking sure woke me up. Then, I listened to a heartfelt voice mail from my buddy, Pete, and the tears came; a legend had passed and her famous laugh would be heard no more.

The 1,000-mile journey home - a shuttle van, a big plane, a small plane and my truck - was a blur. Physically, I felt like a brain on a wobbly stick, with just one eye open and a bunch of dead-weight flesh attached to it.

At the Minneapolis airport, I bought a bunch of Rocky Mountain Chocolate, my attempt at staying awake with an infusion of second-home-state product. When I arrived at Grand Forks Airport, I still had a two-hour drive to SCRANCH. I must give thanks for the BBC, which kept me awake with it's fascinating rendition of world news. I now know everything about Ethiopia's dead prime minister, Meles Zenawi. Quite a fellow, from what I hear.

At long last, I pull into my tree-arched 'garage' and exhaled a bellow of relief. "I did it. I made it. I'm home," I say aloud, and momentarily rest my forehead on the steering wheel. I unload all my luggage and drag it all across the dirt gravel road toward The Mae Flower. For some reason, I look skyward and see a million sparkling diamonds, twinkling at me and a cloudy streak - The Milky Way. The constellations and planets of the night sky were so vivid and clear, something I could never see in an urban setting.

Man, it felt good to be back.

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