New Places

Poetry can do a lot of things to people. I mean it can improve your imagination. It can take you to new places. It can give you this incredible form of verbal pleasure.

~ Billy Collins ~


It’s odd, isn’t it, when troublesome and argumentative—but educational—philosophical quandaries invade one’s dreams? Just such a set of circumstances took place in my subconscious early this morning, just before I woke. Another vivid dream, for the second night in a row. The people involved in this dream included one of my brothers, members of my church, one of my nephews and his wife, my late wife’s sister, a friend who just celebrated his birthday, a friend from Hot Springs Village who is involved in her own long road trip at the moment, and various others. The situation revolved around the availability and/or release of telephone numbers.

My memory of the details of exactly how and why the phone numbers were released and the reasons for releasing them are sketchy. But I remember insisting that the phone numbers should have been readily available.  And I recall that a woman who is a “friend” of the church was upset because she believed the availability of phone numbers was being made as a tool to strong arm friends into becoming members. She claimed she and her husband were not members because they could not afford to make financial commitments (which is, by the way, not a requirement of membership), but the availability of their phone numbers was helping pressure them to join. She asked me whether a specific person was responsible for revealing their numbers.

My nephew was irate about making his wife’s phone number available to other members of the family (this, incidentally, never occurred in the real world, as far as I know). And my sister-in-law, not physically present in my dream but mentioned by me friend who just had a birthday, was a pawn in a disagreement in which an argument was made that the release of phone numbers could contribute to behaviors tantamount to sexual harassment. There was much more in this convoluted dream, but I do not quite understand or remember just how it all fit together. I do recall, though, that I finally insisted that the availability of phone numbers was a matter of easing emotional trauma and that, if a person felt strongly about the matter, he or she could block the numbers of certain people. And I recall, during the midst of the arguments, attempting to resolve the tensions surrounding the disagreements by washing an enormous sink-full of dishes. In the final bit of the dream I recall, I asked my camping friend something about her phone, but I do not recall just what. And, then, I woke up.


Yesterday morning, we left Ashtabula, Ohio early after filling the tank with gas. After filling the tank with gas, I reset both trip odometers, including the one that recorded the mileage since departing on this road trip. Fortunately, mi novia recorded the starting mileage in writing, so we will have a record of the distance driven when we finally return home. We decided to forego a visit to Niagara Falls for the day, opting instead to drive directly to Schenectady, New York.

Along the way, we stopped at a remarkably attractive and well-appointed rest stop overlooking Chautauqua Lake, where we mused about the beauty of the area and how nice it would be to live in this area, nestled amid the natural beauty of this part of New York. Later, we attempted to find a place for lunch in Corning, New York, but the town seemed to eschew restaurants in favor of the Corning Museum of Glass.  As much as we would have liked to have visited the museum, street construction and blockage (coupled with hunger) argued against it. So, instead, we moved on to a gas station in Big Flats, New York, for a lunch of pizza. Then, we hit the road again, bound for Schenectady. We checked in to a very nice hotel, where we have a “room” that’s more like a nicely-appointed one-bedroom apartment, complete with kitchen (with a stove, full-sized refrigerator, dishwasher, living room (with big-screen TV), bedroom (with another big-screen TV), and bathroom. We’ll be here for a few days, using it as a base of operations while we visit the area where mi novia spent the first ten years of her life.

When we left Hot Springs Village, we thought we might visit Door County, Wisconsin and/or Traverse City, Michigan and various other places that we have, so far, missed. We did not really think we’d get to Schenectady, New York. Yet here we are, roughly 2500 miles (after taking an admittedly round-about route to get here) from where we started. Today, we will attend a service at the Unitarian Universalist church, just to see how our church compares. Then, we’ll see what we can see in and around Schenectady.


Here, roughly (in two parts), is the route we have taken so far. Quite the trip.

About John Swinburn

"Love not what you are but what you may become."― Miguel de Cervantes
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