Four weeks have passed, since, after much anticipation, my mind rests again upon the day we packed to return to the place of our origins here on Earth, where the space ship arrived, er, where we both were born: Rome, GA, and a five house circuit of family and friends. Places to lay our heads and people to fill our days; I’m sure at least four weeks came before I zipped in the last item, and the whole time my mind wandered ahead to Georgia every four thoughts or so, as it begins to do now when I think of how much beloved shit I had to mentally pack aside to be anywhere besides right here in the solitude of the Apartment of Ideas.
I packed away inking tools for practice in some imaginary free moment of peace on vacation, still reading all of Gary Martin's book on the subject, suggested by Judge WAN, I believe. The Janson book Marcus recommended was in the mail, and already the freshly-shipped drawing table called even as I stubbornly drew on my old improvised set-up, some last panels in my mock-up copy of the Stuckwayze that I couldn't wait to show my nephews. (How would it be now, having a niece, around those rough and tumble rapscallions?)
I’d practiced and rediscovered favorite covers, songs left unfinished and half-learned, slipping guitar back into my day-to-day life after letting the need to draw take over everything! Writing made it back okay, first; aside from the messages every day, I’d indulged in reviewing The Man Called Nova and Machine Man, the Living Robot comics in their first runs under the aegis of their creators, Marv Wolfman and Jack Kirby, respectively. But listening to the street musicians outside my window made me find the time again by summer’s end ---if for no other reason than to distract from the drone of the bagpipes on Friday nights!
“Is This Love?” became the one song not my own that really resonated with me and what we were going back to Georgia to celebrate. I never want to forget what falling in love with Angela Dawn is like; I told the musician as I tipped him, we shared the same room and the shelter of our single bed, just across the street behind a window from a hundred year old brick-and-mortar hotel two floor above Fred’s Mexican Place.
Marley would cross my mind again when the fellow passed out and then, after the attendance of many there in the aisle beside me, got sick just a couple of rows back at the lavoratory. Bad night for him, bad enough for any plans to sleep, so Bob and Elvis played from my memories as I stared into the featureless night sky, with glances at my friendly row-mate’s IPad as she discovered its games. Beside my right, Angela nearly dozed a bit, having enjoyed the ten-thirty flight out of Lindbergh with the same heightened sense of our changing surroundings.
I included our two shirts, made with the Integr8d Soul "Man" sigil, just in case we needed them for anything...like, a concert I was still organizing on the hoof, trying to find a location and day best for everyone who wanted to see us.
You think of this when you pack and travel: the changing surroundings require an awareness of yourself and your belongings, so it is best to go lightly. The single carry-on bag and the one with this very laptop rested with us. If only, on the Charlotte stopover, I’d remembered how Dixie and Charlotte collect one thing: shot glasses, I would’ve had the perfect thing. As it is, a handful of copies of the home-printed version, hand-numbered first issue, of our new Integr8d Soul Comic, D’n’A , contained one of the unique presents with which we’d leave our presence in their home, the first morning we awakened in Georgia---Cedartown, to be exact!
Before that, the Sunday was bound to begin in Rockmart, as my Mom seemed to orchestrate, in a fuzzy manner, a homecoming day for us at the 2012 Bowman residence where Angela lived when I accompanied her and Dixie home, where we shared a second kiss and more than I’ll here elaborate. David, Austin and Ciara would bring the very most enthusiasm in its energetic form, as they fully planned our kidnapping on arrival. I stayed at 2012 during the time Ciara came into the world, the conception and the birth both, during two layovers on the way to Columbus, GA and finally San Diego by Cinco de Mayo, 2005, or 5-5-05. I remembered when her impending arrival was announced to the household, and had lived in California virtually since she was born, Feb. 15, 2005. Now CiCi awaited the impending arrival of Angela and I, two people she really only knew in gifts and legends. Her brothers had kept our memory alive, as had their parents and 2012 as well.
No plane trip’s complete without an airport, and without a hitch, the last person in our first day rode down to pick us up with her brand new husband, our new friend Eric. I had a t-strap shirt packed for her artistic and individualistic daughter Darby, one designed and ironed by the Marc Kane herself. The other two shirts---for I’d figured out there was no way to pack the eight or so I had in mind for people, barely enough room to take some iron-on pages---celebrate the Gypsy Cave, a place I knew I’d have the hardest time leaving, and this day, everyone was gathered, by Mom if no one else, to receive us in the same house where Papa Bowman took our wedding vows.
My love for her sky photos had blossomed into a most powerful friendship, and “Bean” as she is sometimes known texted her way into our days, sharing the chaos and sweet observations intimately. Her enjoyment of our devotion to Integr8d Soul arts included not only enthusiasm, but actual contributions; her first request of me had been to aid her in creating the poem chronicled on the two shirts, and here at this link as well.
Her lovely friendship and smartistic ways involved a fascinating look at local lady cop, down-to-earth mother and endlessly inventive enemy of boredom. I felt privy to the widest multitude of her facets, yet she had an incompletion fostered by her very power to love. She clearly needed two more people, in addition to the cast she shared with us, some of whom became our fans, too. What could we do about that need, so far away?
Her ability to attract what she needed soon caused her oneness to become three: a new husband and a new life and a way to connect her artistic and intuitive perceptions means people to love and understand, very close to her, a boy and a girl, companions of the sort that we ourselves would agree assure nothing about the wonderful Bean goes to waste, least of all any of her time!
So now she sports a belly supporting a tiny life named Tupelo Lyric, and it’s just like I’ve emerged texting from the shuttle between concourses at Hartsfield-Jackson to claim our baggage and unite my Dawns, as these two friends, the closest ladies in my life this fine year, physically met for the very first time.
Eric turns out to be so funny, inventive, rebellious, and kind, the four of us can’t help but have a great ride from Atlanta to Rockmart. Already artistic plans are hatched, as our intentions we’ve been saving to share bleed through the raucous conversation. They are friends we could easily spend the entire week with, and we’ll be gone just as soon as we in fact warm up! They are Southerners to the core, in that best of ways marked in every household we visit there: you are loved, welcomed, and invited to fit into the life there however you like. Come in and sit a spell!
They decide they’ll be close enough to pick up daughter Darby, so they drop us off at 2012, and by eleven o’clock our conversation with Vick and Ron has transformed into my tour of the neighborhood, led about by boisterous boys and much gladness.
By the time Mom actually arrives with the lasagna to bake, I’m sleep deprived and hungry and let me tell you, with neighbor Christina sitting with me as the Falcons game played, I was feeling the physical aspects of my road trip but running on pure friendship. That’s where I got the energy to let one piggy-backed child at a time play as “Doctor Octopus’ arms” as we chased the other two through the house, in a way that must’ve evoked God knows what memories for everyone, but best of all, made new ones. Every since I’d played CiCi’s hiding game where I took off each coat one-by-one and put them on, from that third or fourth coat on, I’d won a new friend, and relating would turn out as easy as I’d hoped, after all.
Dixie and Charlie were there early, and I heard about a harrowing small plane ride ahead of a Wyoming winter that makes my flight a walk in the park---speaking of which, I have one of those, too, with the kids, as Angela visited their mother Anna and father David for coffee. Thankfully, when they were ready to disappear around sunset, I was more than glad to look at the new paint job. I was ready to watch paint DRY. My pj’s were on and I dove into my just-received copy of Miracle Man #1 by the time Angela reconnected with big sis over glasses of red wine. This was the perfect moment to enjoy something I’d packed just for me or whoever; the fantastic old story of the “Miracle Family” and the return of Miracle Man, all climaxing in a visit with one of the old family that didn’t come out nearly as pleasant as mine.
I must’ve spent the day as one of the just, because that night, I knew their sleep.