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Saturday, 12.30.06: Week In Review

Napping our way through Christmas in St. Louis.

After much scurrying around to make some post-remodelling order, we headed for St Louis on the 22nd.

Great gathering of loved ones. Great weather. Except I arrived with laryngitis. While I croaked for 4 days, at least 4 family members (incl Jim) fell victim to the short-lived but evil Poop & Puke stomach flu.

We soldiered merrily along, not missing much — a whirlwind City Museum visit with Brendan, Art Museum, cozy kitchen table conversations, the Price family gathering at McGurks. But everything was seen through a pooped out haze. Naps filled the quiet times.

Maybe some years are like that. The short days of winter settle upon you and instead of fighting, you just give in. It was a rough year for some in our family. My Aunt Lorraine and two of my dad's cousins died. Among my own generation, mortality came sniffing — lung cancer, throat cancer, kidney transplant, and the never-ending chain of diagnostic tests. But the year ended with everything stable. Permission to take naps.

But I'm not saying it was a bad year. The nieces and nephews and grand-niece are all beautiful and energized. The adults equally beautiful but toned with middle-age vinegar. Everyone is seeking their purpose. (Just taking a nap, wait a minute.) My mother will take up yoga, get her ears cleaned out and continue to be our (only sissies need novocaine) inspiration. Kathleen will knock 'em dead with her new video composition skills. Ellen will blossom in her ministry. Tom will be the kind of helpful dad who gets his girls through the unsettled years of early adulthood — and will continue to develop as an artist.

Still, some years simply end like "the long way to Indianapolis": On our way out of St. Louis, I missed the fork in the road where I-70 separates from I-55. We rolled stupidly along, trying to figure out why the airplane contrails seemed to be oriented north-south, till we started seeing exits for Springfield and realized we'd been going north instead of east. Doh!

So we decided to take the old U.S. 36 east to Indianapolis.

A two-lane highway through 150 miles of dead corn fields has a certain stark beauty. It slo-o-o-ws you down. It cancels out any ambition. It's like one of those meditations that completely empties your mind. Even playing music seemed to have no point. Like a long holiday nap.


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