Sometimes, you take a leap and trust the Universe will lead you true. Sometimes She just leads you from point A to point B, and sometimes She decides She needs to have fun with you in the process.
I drove to Des Moines on Friday to help a friend by pulling a trailer of bed parts to Minneapolis. While I was at their house, I realized that I was very close to where my mother grew up, and with a couple of quick text messages and a promise of a picture, I had an address. The game was afoot!
Now, I have an immutable rule about never photographing anything with a child in it, unless I have a clear and direct permission of the parents. When I pulled up in front of the house, there was a small child playing basketball with their parent in the driveway. The Universe decided She needed to have some fun, so on to Plan B we went.
I walked up the driveway, introduced myself to the child, and asked to speak to their parent. The parent, Andrew, graciously gave me permission to take a photo, but had questions on the history of the house.
When Grandpa built the house in the late 50’s/early 60’s, he worked with an architect with the first name of Paula. Paula also designed and contracted several other houses in the neighbourhood, which has largely maintained its Mid-Century Modern aesthetic. Andrew, also an architect, has kept the house intact and mostly original, and believes that the house is eligible for the Register of Historic Homes due to its provenance. I told him that I don’t have much information on the house, but I knew who did – and placed a call to Mom.
Mom and Andrew talked for about fifteen minutes, and shared a lot of mutual happiness and memories for the house. It turns out that Mom may have the original plans for the house from Grandpa’s estate, and will be working with Andrew to get him a copy. With the plans in hand, Andrew will be able to move forward with restoration work and research for the rest of the neighbourhood, as well as track down information on Paula, the original architect. All of this information will go into the application to the Registry, when he gets to that point.
What humbled me on the way North was the realization that I am not simply a collector of stories, as I supposed – but I am the catalyst by which the Story is created. Whatever that Story is, whatever form it may take, I am just an archivist.
As I drove through Iowa and into Minnesota on Saturday, I kept this lesson close to heart. I was not disappointed either, as I heard something about thirty miles into Minnesota that I had not heard in many years – the sound of my ancestors singing a welcoming song to Mother Earth.
A proud part of my heritage is traced through my mother’s line, and (now) extends back into the Dakota Sioux reservation at Lake Traverse**. I’ve heard the songs of my ancestors before, usually in ceremony and never while rocketing down the highway at 70 miles per hour. I spent the next couple of hours driving in silence, listening only to the hum of the tires and those songs singing in my heart, the voices of my ancestors joyfully proclaiming the turning of the year.
After a wonderful conversation over coffee in Minneapolis on Sunday, I pointed the truck southeast and headed out. Somewhere in Wisconsin, I was passed by a semi-truck with Tolkien’s famous quote emblazoned on its trailer doors: “Not all who wander are lost.” I exclaimed “Holy crap!”* and safely took a picture to prove the tale. I took that trailer as a Sign that this is exactly where I should be and exactly what I should be doing.
Now there are twelve days until I head west, and I cannot even begin to imagine what lies along the way. Not all who wander are lost, my friends, and there are miles to go before we sleep.
May the wind be ever at our backs,
*Not those exact words. Not even close.
**Edit, May 2016: A separate thread of genealogical research has proven the Sioux connection to be incorrect. While I still maintain a religious and cultural connection to the Sioux people, my blood is not their blood. From my mother’s side, we trace our lineage through Irish Traveler and Welsh Kale families. I apologize to anyone I have misled over the years.