Tomorrow morning I will board a plane. I will be gone for four days and three nights. My destination and what I find there will make me cry, bring me joy, and give me great cause for reflection. I am scared and nervous. The trip has been planned for months but I have pushed all thoughts of it away until the last possible moments.
Tomorrow morning I will board a plane to South Dakota. I will be gone for four days and three nights. I will be staying with my Aunt and Uncle whom I have met only once in my adulthood, although several times as a child. My Uncle, my dad’s brother and the youngest of the six siblings, has graciously offered to drive me around, to give me a tour of the farmlands, the farmhouses, the old school – places where my dad came long before me. South Dakota is not a place where I have strong memories of my dad. This trip will be more about collecting information of his past and about forming new bonds with distant family.
Tomorrow I will be in the same South Dakota my dad breathed in, lived in, farmed in. I will revisit places of which I have only the vaguest of memories. I was ten the summer between fourth and fifth grade the last time my dad and I took a trip to South Dakota to visit his family. We made the rounds, saw the sights that were relevant to our family, if to no one else. I have an image of an old field, ruts from wagon wheels gone by so many years past, still there at the edge of the land. We peeked into falling down wooden buildings outside town, a house where one of his sisters was born, another where he went to school. We drove and I looked out the car window at all that open space.
I am the type of person who will collect a small fistful of the fragrant brown soil, bring it home with me. I am the type of person who will find herself standing on the tired front porch of a stranger, a front porch my dad climbed up and down a thousand times as a young boy, choking out the words, pleading for a moment of time to stand alone by the door looking in, looking out. I am the type of person who will look like I am holding it all together when inside I am anything but. My poor Uncle has no idea what he is in for. He has no children of his own and I don’t think he has much practice comforting thirty-something year old women.
It has been six month since my dad died. It is getting easier, but on some days it is hard. Tomorrow will be one of the hard days.
*I will be unplugged for a while, I don’t know for how long, but I will be back.