A way station.
A place to stop and rest while on a journey.
I’ve made use of way stations, large and small, throughout my life.
As a kid, the tiny train station halfway between home and school. It was only a mile to school, but to my sister and me trudging along the highway in the snow in the Montreal winter, often below zero, it seemed never ending. Not to mention numbing. Despite our layers of clothing, hats, gloves, mittens, we froze. The little station was our warming refuge. We climbed the stairs, ran in and hugged the pot belly stove. Then made it the rest of the way to school hands and feet tingling.
A big, white Victorian hotel in the Green Mountains of Vermont. My grandfather knew the value of way stations, always stopping between Montreal and Cape Cod, stretching our 400-mile journey into two days so we could relax and look out over rolling lawns and play shuffleboard, and so he and my grandmother could enjoy their scotch at gloaming (Scottish for twilight). This was a treat for my sister and me, since if our father had been at the wheel, it would have been a mad, crabby, eyes-on-the road dash each way. No stopping for ice cream, let alone overnight lollygagging.
Other images float up from memory. A bench overlooking the ocean or outside a store, a cubbyhole in a library, a shady spot under a tree, a stoop or doorway, a friend’s spare bedroom or hidden garden, a wide wall next to a museum, a shack in the woods, a diner on an empty road.
Most airports, yes! I have always loved airports, the excitement of new journeys, leaving and arriving, sitting and watching. Today they are less restful, with security checks, long lines, more frequent delays. But there is more to do – eat, drink, shop, gamble, get a haircut, manicure, massage, watch TV, hold meetings, use computers and gadgets, even sleep in some. If I ever blow the whistle on someone, I could hang out like Edward Snowden in the Moscow Airport, although from photos, it didn’t look as if he got a haircut during his weeks there.
Actually, I’m living in a way station today. That is what my current house feels like. It does not have a sense of settling in for the duration, or much duration beyond a year or two. I moved to get out of the storm of rising costs, rents. On my journey, I’ve known for awhile I need to simplify, but I wasn’t quite ready to leave a home I loved. But here I am! This way station is comfortable and convenient. It appeared at the right time. It is a place to rest and reflect awhile, to rejuvenate, before I get back out there on the road.