Tuesday, November 3, 2009

Familiarity breeds . . . contentment

This morning I was sitting in Clanton’s Cafe eating one of those opulent omelets (which I always say I’ll never order again because they turn me into a sluggish sloth and ruin my day), when it occurred to me that my life is rather clearly divided between 1) when I used to dream about living a Route 66 life and 2) now, when I’m actually living one. Then I started analyzing (usually a bad idea over breakfast) whether the reality has lived up to the dream. And I’ve got to confess, in one way it has not. Oh, don’t get me wrong, everything is exactly as I had pictured it in those dreams I used to have while living in that upscale East Coast town. I mean, for example, that here I was, sitting in an absolutely picture-perfect small town cafe surrounded by ranchers discussing crops and a couple of truckers complaining about the toll roads. There are photos all over the walls of local doings, “famous” visitors, and historical town landmarks. The setting is nothing less than the perfect fit for my dream.

To get to this small town, I drive 65 miles through some incredibly beautiful Midwestern plains and grasslands, past cattle grazing and farmers, even this late in the year, plowing under the remains of their crops. Idyllic doesn’t even begin to describe it. And then, after breakfast, I drive another 15 miles to another small, dying town where I own and operate a Route 66 welcome center and museum in an old gas station, to which travelers flock like pilgrims to the Promise Land just to see what we offer here. And all day I get to meet interesting people who, because they’re usually living their own dream of traveling the Mother Road, are almost always cheerful and chatty and most eager to hang out for a spell and regale me with stories of their travels or of their childhoods.

Ok, so what’s not to love about that? Absolutely nothing. It’s just that I am at the point where everything is in danger of becoming too familiar, too everyday. I don’t ever want my Route 66 life to become unromantic just because I’m living it rather than imagining it. I want very badly not to become too complacent because of the familiarity of it all. I don’t want to become jaded, unappreciative of what I have. I can’t even name many other people I know who are living precisely the life they dreamed of in their childhood. Furthermore, I know a good number of people who envy my life. (Actually, my childhood dream involved owning a motel and not a museum, but the only difference is that the museum is a lot less work. I get to meet the same travelers, but I only have to clean one toilet and I don’t get wakened in the middle of the night by latecomers.). I am so very lucky.

What this boils down to, I guess, is that I must be diligent in finding and recognizing the freshness of my life every day. I must never become too content, and I must continue to look upon every single day as new and unique.

I got to Afton Station an hour before official opening time and wrote the above in an attempt to stay awake to digest all that deliciousness from Clanton's. The monotonous hum of the wall furnace isn’t helping my lethargy at all. I feel like I’m being lulled into slumber. I do hope some noisy, raucous travelers show up to get my blood circulating. Today’s bright sun and relatively warm temperatures are expected to last all week.

First to show up here was David and his intrepid band of helpers. Today, they’re sealing the concrete floor of Big Ugly. Tomorrow they’re picking up the big stanchion that will hold the gigantic vintage D-X sign that we’ve had for years. David located a stanchion a while ago, but had to line up the proper equipment to remove it from it’s current spot about 15 miles away and re-erect it here. Betty dropped in for a little while, but I spent the entire morning visitorless. I worked on the slide show, and now it actually plays and has captions. It has lots of glitches to work out, but I’m still learning.

1:15 p.m. Visitor Count = 0. Hmm. . . This could be the first day since Jan. 13th that we’ve had no visitors. I don’t like it one bit! But, there are almost 2 hours to go, so I still have hope.

3:00 p.m. It happened. ZERO visitors today. Depressing. . . but relaxing, too. I'll survive.


Ken Riches said...

Maybe it would be better if you lived closer?

Trevor Hilton said...

The Reality seldom measures up to the Dream. In the Dream everything is absolutely perfect. In Reality, the toilet clogs up, punk kids think it's fun to throw a brick through your window, etc.

Taking different routes to and from work helps me some.

If all else fails, remember one of my earlier suggestions: listen to Rush Limbaugh and Sean Hannity.

Laurel said...


Are you trying to raise my blood pressure? :-)