my compass always points north

i am going slap-me-silly stir crazy. i have been in owatonna for 4 ½ days, bouncing between my hotel room and the lion’s den adult boutique…i mean my hotel room and cabelas…where nearly a week of immersive septic training has taken place. the class was an intense cerebral whirlwind that knocked the cobwebs off of synapses that haven’t been awakened since sometime during my halcyon days of grad school. it ends with a 3-hour test that wasn’t as hard as i feared and wasn’t as demanding as expected. relief is tangible.

another student, who also happens to be a “public servant” has the same intent as i…and we both end up in our “public servant” vehicles in the nearest subway; each of us hoping to extra pepper jack cheese the last 4 days from our memories.

 “what’d you think?”

 “it wasn’t as bad as i thought”, he says.

 “hey…mccloed county…is it legal for you to drink and drive in your county vehicles? because it is in cook county.”


 “well no, but it will be for the ride home today.”

 the drive means traveling up the north to south vertebrae of the twin cities; doing so on the edge of the memorial day weekend and doing so just as the end of the work day announces its presence with choked roads and people who believe stop and go traffic is a pilates workout.

 i desperately want to be home; away from concrete and halogen and traffic and throngs and fast food and open and hidden agendas and everything that has led me to the north shore… a journey that for me, began at birth.

 i meander through the cities and stop at my brother and sister-in-law’s to offload the empty beer bottles; doing so (conveniently) just as the brats are being turned on the grill. it is 5:30 and considering where they live, i know that not being able to hear traffic on the freeway means the traffic on the freeway isn’t moving.

 after eating, my brother and sister-in-law sense my antsiness…they have seen it dozens of times.

 on a good day, travel to lutsen from this point is a 3 ½ hour affair, including several stops to do what aging men on solo journeys do…look for adult boutiques.

 against better judgment (story of my life) i enter the stream of slowly moving vehicles headed towards polaris and exhibit all the public servant constraints i can…i let people merge…i do not tail gate. most importantly, i do not make eye contact.

 it takes an hour to travel 25 miles to forest lake. on the way, i begin to identify those motorcyclists who will not survive the summer…i also identify the distracted and impaired drivers…because i am one of them.

 i do not stop at hinckley. i do not pass go. i pee in a cup. i accelerate. my shoulders relax. everything in the rear view mirror is but a poorly digested aftertaste.

 the oaks and plowed fields give way to pines and spruce and fir. the sun casts long golden-hued shadows. the head of the lake still supports nomadic chunks of ice. the four lane highway turns into a meandering slice through rock and deep forests.

 every trip north reminds me of why i love living where i do and why, whenever i am away, i can’t wait to return home.


About borealbilly

i am cursed by nocturnal self-awareness. View all posts by borealbilly

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