Her college orientation complete, Laura and I begin the ride back to Boise as far as light allows, past and future connected by penumbral roads.
We are kind of looking at the same thing from opposite ends, my daughter and I. I finish my tour of things past and she finishes her orientation toward what’s to come. We meet back at my mom’s in the present and plan our trip home.
I would like some down-time tomorrow before returning to work but that means riding home today and it’s already late afternoon. After a little think, I decide Laura and I will ride until dusk then stay at a hotel.
We ride into the moonrise, my oldest daughter and I, the low sun at our backs casting long shadows across golden prairie lands. I am reminded of the well known words of the Irish blessing —
May the road rise up to meet you
May the wind be always at your back
May the sun shine warm upon your face
— that hang above my sink at home, a gift from my own dad.
It feels good to pass the rest area atop White Bird grade where I was recently broke down the better part of a day. We pull to the side of the highway a moment to observe foothills hung like velveteen draperies, soft and green, below a violet sky tacked firmly in place with a perfect lunar orb.
I thought we might get as far as Riggins but “blue hour”¹ was ceding quickly to night. We’ve stopped many times at Hoots but barely noticed they have lodging. We’re a bit hungry so Laura and I have some late dinner at the café before retiring to a room.
“Why am I awake in the middle of the night?” I wonder. I lay a while and try to get back to sleep. Finally I sit up to look at the clock across the room and see it’s actually 6:45 AM. The window shades make it so dark. I rouse Laura so we can get back on the road.
It is a privilege to travel with my daughter like this, through past and future, forests and prairies. Some have asked how I feel about her “leaving the nest.” With Laura, for better or worse, the nest was never a place. Instead, she was an expert airline passenger, to mom’s, dad’s, this town, that town. The nest is just us and the curious traits we share, neurons growing from similar blueprints and shared experiences.