Sometimes everything fits, like pieces of a puzzle. Sometimes things just go together, like bread and butter. Sometimes timing is everything, and the past and the present fuse in a way that makes futuresense.
And sometimes the puzzle is a few pieces short of a box, the bread is moldy and the butter is frozen, and the only sense made out of the past, present and future is that you have always been and will continue to be a great big dork.
I’ve just returned from a short trip to Traverse City, Michigan, and all of the above applied.
To begin: My van is a vampire.
There’s something about travel that causes menstruation. The last thing I want to think about when tooling around the country is what state my uterus is in. Believe me, I wish I could leave it home. I suppose that day is coming given that my moon time has lately caused more blood loss than childbirth. But it’s not just perimenopausal, whisker-sprouting broads like me who are afflicted. My poor teenager, who has enough stress simply as a result of her age and interests (or disinterests, as would be more likely), has to carry around period baggage. Going anywhere? Guaranteed to bleed. It’s one of our rules to live by. I just hope my jeans (Totally rockin’ Lucky deep dark blues that I got on clearance at Macy’s because, seriously, I’m never in style and I’d never pay full price for some scraps of denim. Think of my African daughter! The guilt….) wash out as nicely as the motel bedspread.
I’ve been wanting to see Traverse City since I was a little girl. My grandfather was born in Traverse City, and my mom talked about it with such fondness and pride that the city has always held a regal spot in my heart. My great-grandfather, Quincy Edward Boughey I, was apparently a man of prominence in the city, and a street and a hill are named after the family – or after him, I’m not actually sure.
The girls and I visited Boughey Street on Boughey Hill. I laughed out loud when I saw the yellow houses on the corner. I grew up in a yellow house. I bought two yellow houses. We are re-siding our house and guess what color we picked? Yellow. Not that I love yellow. It's that we are too cheap to re-side the garage, too, and since we are re-siding, we want the house and garage to match. Right now, the house is a ghastly yellow six-inch aluminum siding. The garage is a less-ghastly, four-inch, light yellow vinyl.
Anyway, this particular trip came about because Eric, my ever-loving husband, decided to attend a seminar at Interlochen College of Creative Arts, about half an hour from TC. When I met Eric in 1990, he had this plastic board called a Chapman Stick that when he tapped he made music. Not much later, he quit. But a few years ago, when our lives blew up, he grabbed hold of his Stick again. This summer, Interlochen held a Stick seminar taught by Emmett Chapman, inventor of the Chapman Stick, and Greg Howard, Stickist extraordinaire. Eric couldn’t pass up this opportunity, and neither could I.
Eric packed his Sticks (yes, he has more than one now) and his amps. He forgot a sweatshirt. He always forgets a sweatshirt. And why would you really think of a sweatshirt in August, right? I packed sunscreen and swimming suits and beach towels (and supermegavortex tampons and onlyslightlysmallerthandiapers pads). Northern Michigan missed the memo that it’s summer. Eric bought a sweatshirt to add to his collection of sweatshirts purchased on summer vacations. I drank a lot of hot drinks, unsuccessfully dodged rain drops and finally just holed up in our chilly, humid motel room reading Harley Jane Kozak’s second Wollie Shelley mystery, Dating is Murder. Saturday night, having finished the book, I flipped on the TV after hunkering under the blankets and who should appear on my screen but the lovely (and hilarious) Ms. Kozak herself. She has such fine features and exquisite hair. And she was hugging Scott Bakula. What could be better? Now I can say I’ve seen the last five minutes of “Necessary Roughness.” But I’d still like to see the whole thing for Harley’s sake.
My grandfather, Stoepel Boughey, son of the aforementioned Quincy Edward I, was visiting from Florida that awful day in 1986 when Harley's "Santa Barbara" character Mary was tragically killed by a poorly tethered neon C. My grandfather and I were finishing up a rollicking game of cribbage when the poor, fallen, crushed nun Mary said, “God’s here,” and I bawled my eyes out while my grandpa laughed at my anguish. "Santa Barbara" was a funny, crazy, well-crafted (for a while) soap opera. They even did one episode in iambic pentameter, but that was well after Harley's unfortunate departure.
So, tragic deaths and Traverse City: In poking around Traverse City history through the magic of the Internet, I discovered my great-uncle Quincy Edward Boughey II, my grandfather’s brother and nemesis, was a telephone man who died as a result of electrocuting himself installing a phone in his own home. My brother Doug is a telephone man.
See? Past and present. Things go together. Just not the way you might expect.
Next time: Peaches, porn, grinders, bars and brown people – Wisconsin and Michigan really are miles apart.
Check out Harley Jane Kozak's blog, The Lipstick Chronicles, which she shares with the rest of the Book Tarts, a group of women who write mysteries and blog about life and its many accompanying mysteries.