four wheels, a radio, and the road

Someone told me on the reservation that the settlements were about fifteen miles away from each other because she’d heard that was the outside limit of how far you can push your horse in a day. If this is true, then just about every Western I’ve ever seen has it wrong, but it doesn’t matter right now. What matters now is that after all those days in cars and on beaches and in strange hotel beds and on screened-in porches with mosquitoes who missed the memo about the screen—after all the events and sights and flavors of the past week, I came home on Sunday and collapsed into my familiar bed and wondered about travel and those horses pushed to cover that sixteenth mile. Or twentieth.

This trip would not have taken such a toll on me if I’d flown to PEI and back. Or if I’d avoided dairy completely, or the mosquitoes for that matter. And I used to get such a charge about a good road trip. I would pack my copper-colored CD player into the car and head off, never using a map and following whatever signs the government deigned to give me. There’s something luxurious about embarking on a journey when every decision is one I make myself—where to stay, when to stop, whether to eat or wait. So this trip was a new adventure in that way, because I was the tag-along element. My friend was visiting her parents on PEI. Her parents own the B&B where we stayed. I split the gas with her and got a holiday in exchange. Since most of the decisions were made for me, I had limits, but they didn’t change the overall effect of the visit to the island. In fact, the limits were an even exchange for the things I never would have gotten to do had I gone on my own, not knowing a soul, coming with nothing but wide eyes and a willingness to poke my nose into new things.

So I’m exhausted, but happily sated, and thrilled to be back in my own bed and on my own turf. I’m sorting out the columns in my mind—what I miss already, what doesn’t compare to home, what changed me forever, what I’ll write about here to share with you. I feel my heart return to its natural pace. I feel new strength in my limbs, an energy borne of all the hours in the car watching mile markers flash by. I came back to an Ottawa that’s sunny and warm, which skipped patent-leather Easter T-straps and went straight into sandals. Those T-straps only get scuffed anyway.

I don’t have a photo for you today, because all I have to show for myself is sleep-mussed hair, a yet-to-be-unpacked suitcase, a laundry bag and a box of teenage romance. (Oh!) But I’ve got plenty of photos to give you soon enough, and though I’m in Canada I know it’s Memorial Day and today should be given over to starting summer and being outside instead of reading blogs, even this one which I know you adore above all others. (Oh!) Here is what matters, the best way to end: I’m home. I had a wonderful time. I can’t wait to tell you all about it. And fifteen-mile limits are for horses, not people.