Lincoln, Nebraska

I drove out to Lincoln on Saturday to help a person who may accurately be described, I suppose, as my ex-girlfriend, although it has been a relationship that has altered my life in ways far beyond what that meager title implies.

It was about an 11-hour drive from Indianapolis. Illinois is wide enough, but let me tell you, Iowa has even greater girth to offer a driver. You just drive and drive, and all you see are fields and flat land. Nebraska would seem to be more of the same, but Omaha is right across the river from Iowa, and Lincoln is only 45 minutes or so further into the state.

The funny thing is that, if you drive enough, you eventually reach your destination: something obvious but surprising in its truth. In February, two of my friends and I took a road trip to New York City, driving all night through a blizzard so as to arrive on time to see my play performed the next day. Drive 15 hours (when the weather is rotten) and reach NYC; drive 11 hours (when the weather is beautiful) and reach Lincoln. I have been back and forth on airplanes to Japan; it is strange that one can conquer that distance by renting a seat and waiting. But the autonomy that the automobile offers can be stranger still: pick a destination, pony up for gas, drive safely, and there you are.

I listened to The Look by Roxette and string quartets by Franck and Brahms. I stopped four times. Then I was in Lincoln. Then I was in the coffee shop where she was, hugging her after more than seven months of not seeing her. It felt like a miracle to be in her presence again. Is a phone call going to do this? Is an email going to be this? No.

Lincoln has several things to say. The houses of the grid talk about a day when this city had to be here. I am ignorant of how the population has changed over the years, of how the economy is doing here; but, as in every city, there are the supermarkets and restaurants; it’s a college town, so there are students for whom this city and its school and the red of the football team are just a given. You must visit the capitol building if you go there: beautiful architecture and amazing art inside, lots of it. The use of yield signs instead of stop signs on the residential streets struck me as unusual. Also, the numbered streets (e.g., 27th St.) go north-south, and there are streets named after the letters of the alphabet (e.g., O St.) that go east-west.

The most important thing in this city, however, is my former soul mate and her struggle. I don’t know if the help I offered will have any long-term benefit; I don’t know if I have bent the world’s karma for the better by traveling there. I have no knowledge, no wisdom. I can only think, “I love you, Great Spirit, and wish you could see beyond the struggle and love me as I love you.”

I drove back Monday, seeing that she wanted to focus on her struggle and not on anything the two of us could be together.

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