Friday, May 12, 2017

L’Arche Across America — Day 3 — Hump Day

You knew this was going to be hard, didn’t you? Maybe you even told me so and I wasn’t listening. Or you read my early posts and thought, When is this thing going to blow up in their faces?

I wrote about bad omens and you said, Duh.

Swanna knew. Our fearless community leader—who gets all the credit possible for backing this trip from the get-go—looked at me in December when I was flush with enthusiasm for a journey involving three assistants, three core members, and one van that grows more claustrophobic by the hour and she said, “You know this isn’t going to be a vacation, don’t you? This is going to be work.”

As Maynard G. Krebs famously said, “Work?!” (I’ve aged myself. Google MGK.)

Usually Wednesday is “hump day,” the big hurdle on the way to TGIF and the weekend. But we started our trip on a Tuesday, not Monday; so Thursday will do just fine. Thursday was a hump.

It began as a party, complete with rock and roll. We rolled out of our digs in Cleveland Heights at a leisurely 8:30 and had a great breakfast at Al’s Deli on East 9th Street. Todd couldn’t get over how nice Cleveland is after hearing jokes about the Mistake on the Lake and a river that caught fire. (Seriously. See photo.)

“If anyone tells me Cleveland is a dump,” Todd said over breakfast, ”I'm going to ask if they’ve ever been here. This city’s great.”

Then came one of the fixed points on our itinerary since the first day of planning for this trip: The Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and Museum. As anyone familiar with our community knows, Woody knows rock. From the start this stop was non-negotiable.

We had a ball, especially Woody, who couldn’t get enough of exhibits on his three favorite rock artists: The Doors, U2, and Patti Smith. And Doris communed with Elvis (see picture below).

The picture at the top of this post, taken as we were leaving the R&RHF&M, says a lot—from Todd the irrepressible selfie master and an exultant Woody at left to those two old dudes at the end of the line, looking like Statler and Waldorf from the Muppets.

So far John (Waldorf) and I (Statler) have had one thing in common on this trip, sleep. He gets it even in the car, I don’t get it almost anywhere. Shades of the Camino de Santiago in 2012, when I slept a total of twelve hours in the first four nights.

The Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and Museum was a high, and you know what comes after a high, right?

We ground our way toward Chicago in the fading daylight and entered the Windy City just before 9pm. By then I was flooded with fatigue and doubt.

Doubts in L’Arche start with others, like that assistant and why he’s doing that, or that core member and why can’t he shut up? Sorry, but that’s when you really doubt yourself in L’Arche—when the person you’re supposed to be supporting, aiding, accompanying bugs the bejesus out of you.

These doubts inevitably circle back to you, the doubter. Because you entered L’Arche with such hope for humanity, such a sense of being rejuvenated (especially at my age, since most assistants are juvies already). You thought you could finally love.

Then your humanity barged in the door and said you didn’t slept well and you should be pissed off and it’s time to think about quitting.

Thanks to a room by myself and sufficient prayer, I got a good night’s sleep Thursday, beginning after 11pm. Because the hardest part of our trip, each day, happens when we arrive tired and thinking the day is done, and just then we have to arrange everyone’s bedding, showering, dressing for bed, etc.

That’s where we assistants have been earning our spurs for the past three nights, and the next twenty-three nights before home are unlikely to be much different: each night a new house or hotel, a new one-night domestic geography to figure out on the fly, just when you’re most exhausted.

But I got six good hours of sleep, woke up after five, got John off the couch and into the bathroom, folded the laundry, and now I have finished this post.

God, give me the strength for this one day. Tomorrow will take care of herself.

1 comment:

  1. You must realize you get better with every passing day. If you don't believe me today, I'll tell you again tomorrow. --Bob Wyatt


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