Travel and Confession

No, I didn’t commit any particularly memorable sins while traveling for Christmas–I did exhibit the standard shortness of temper that comes with sleeping too little in beds not my own and American-style gluttony at most meals, but nothing that more sleep and smaller portions wouldn’t fix.

Nonetheless I found myself reflecting on the genre of confession as I made the long drive from Augusta, West Virginia to Statham, Georgia.  It didn’t really start until Mary and Micah were both asleep and I had nothing on my mind but the long stretch of interstate in front of me.  I’m not sure if everyone gets the long-travel anxiety I get, but I started walking through my steps on the day we departed, December 20, thinking that for some reason I had left a pot of water on the stove after boiling Micah’s medicine nebulizer (I had) and agonizing over whether I’d turned the burner off before departing (I had).  I remembered that Micah had unlocked the front door to run out on the porch and point at something, and I wondered whether I had locked it again before departing (I had).  I remembered running the dishwasher and couldn’t remember whether I’d checked to make sure that no plastic items had flipped and collected water.  (I had.  They didn’t.)

But for about six hours, I didn’t have any of the parenthetical items above, and I realized that my own faculty of memory, while of average sharpness, couldn’t walk my hand back to those places and times that I had responsibilities and might or might not have fulfilled them.  So I found myself narrating and re-narrating that day, putting my mind’s hand on this item then that, asking my fingertips if they remembered door locks and stove dials and my eyes if they remembered seeing water fall from dishes into the sink.  And all I could do, for six hours, was to content myself with good intentions and hope that, if I fouled anything up, that Boethius’s Fortuna wouldn’t pick that day to take our house or what was in it should fire or thieves or whatever else took advantage of my negligence.

Of course, within five minutes of arriving home, Micah was back in his bed, I had checked all the worrisome spots in the house, and we were good as gold.  But for about three hundred miles and som change, I did have to face my finitude and powerlessness, and I suppose that’s one little side benefit of travel.


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