One thing that came with hitching my giddyup to Becky’s train, hard baked into the contract, was Itasca.
Some people are lucky to find their place – the one place that they feel comforted, restored, whole. For Becky, that place is Itasca State Park. She loves it so much she used to create yearly calendars with pictures we took at the park. For the first couple years together, we went and stayed at the park once or twice a year. We played music from a Walden CD when we drove into the park. No matter what the season or weather, the music fit.
Some days we put up our lawn chairs near the beach and spent the whole day reading. At the time, those books often included her studies. Naked Lunch and Itasca are not a good match. Naked Lunch and anything is not a good match, but especially Itasca. I still dream of doing this. I constantly want to just drive down to the arboretum and spend a day on a bench reading. Just not reading Naked Lunch.
For the past few years, though, getting to Itasca has been more difficult. It’s a much longer drive from the metro area, and with the unemployment battles, we’ve only gone once in the last four years. That time, Becky got a sinus infection and we spent the whole time in our cabin playing board games. Last year, we had to cancel due to unemployment. It was devastating to have to call to try to get our money back so we could continue eating and such. The despair on Becky – I wish I loved a place that much. But I don’t. I read Walden in college and declared bullshit. Becky read it and wrote a thesis.
I wish I had a place that meant that much to me. There are candidates – the North Shore, Norway. But I just haven’t been connected the way Becky is with Itasca.
Next week we return to Itasca. We will sit by the lake. We will wave at the loons. We will breathe in pine and campfires. We will eat grilled food and snack on locally made candies. We will find that calm that can only come from a week in nature.