Monday, June 2, 2014

A Child of the Long Summer Twilight

Today was the first day back to the office after my vacation. I kept having to field the question “how was your vacation”? The question itself left me kind of ambivalent. A trip to South Dakota is time off from work but it isn’t what I would consider to be a vacation. To me a vacation is going someplace very nice and spending a large amount of time doing nothing or doing only those things you want to do. A trip to South Dakota is, well, a bit different.

When I go back to South Dakota the day begins, usually, with an early morning departure – around 6 AM or 7 AM. There are no direct flights into South Dakota from California so my choice is to go, generally, either through Denver Colorado or through Salt Lake City Utah. Inevitably, there is a layover at either airport of anywhere from an hour to four hours before the connecting flight into Rapid City South Dakota.

Once I am in Rapid City I either rent a car, or have someone pick me up, or borrow a car and drive about three hours to the ranch, or now, to Winner South Dakota. Depending on the length of that layover, and the weather, it can be either one very long day or two days to get home. The same rhythm applies on the return trip.

Then, I find myself in the bosom of my family. Now, make no mistake, I love them all dearly but… there is always a but… family can always be challenging. There is always some drama to navigate. There is always some ongoing crisis within which I can either intervene or avoid. For me it is an extraordinary event to go there. For them it is me arriving in the midst of their ordinary days. I have stepped out of my ordinary days, but they have not stepped out of theirs.

Adding to the mixture warring siblings, aging parents, a sick nephew, and the usual internal family politics and you have a great visit but not a vacation. This one was no exception. They’re much more working vacations. But, in spite of that, I enjoyed the trip. I love my family, all their faults included, just as they love me with all my faults included. And it is always great to set foot in the land that gave me birth both physically and psychologically.

I am a child of the Great Plains. I am a child of an endless horizon. I am a child of a long summer twilight. The journey from that place to this place marks the course of my life. That place contains within it numerous essential landmarks and milestones, memories tied to the land of my birth. It’s a great journey whenever I go home because many of those memories are flat out wonderful. So, at the end of the day, I am glad I am a child of that long summer twilight.

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