The Strenuous Life

In speaking to you , men of the greatest city of the West, men of the State which gave to the country Lincoln and Grant, men who pre-eminently and distinctly embody all that is most American in the American character, I wish to preach, not the doctrine of ignoble ease, but the doctrine of the strenuous life, the life of toil and effort, or labor and strife; to preach the highest form of success which comes, not to the man who desires mere easy peace, but to the man who does not shrink from danger, from hardship, or from bitter toil, and who out of these wins the splendid ultimate triumph.

Theodore Roosevelt, “The Wilderness Warrior”


164915 [end vehicle mileage]

150366 [beginning vehicle mileage]


14,549 [ total number of miles put on my car this summer (beat that!)]

I’m coming home, I’m coming home, Tell the world that I’m coming home


Originally I had planned to visit William and Mary for another round of birthday celebrations before coming home for the weekend, but hurricane Irene began to look more and more frightening on the radar screen. Even if the severity was all hyped up and nothing would happen (as usual) any major storm would flood my street, turning my neighborhood into a secluded island. Normally this wouldn’t be a huge deal – but it was Thursday and my new internship started Monday morning in Tennessee. So, I would simply reverse my order, going home for a day and then seek shelter at the higher ground of Williamsburg.

Except, just as I pulled into the driveway of my house for the first time in three months, the college emergency notification service called me and an automated voice declared that the college would be closed as of noon tomorrow. Everyone out of the dorms now. I immediately went into contact mode – did everyone have transportation? Where were out of state students going to stay? Was there any sort of plan? I hastily and grumpily flung my clothes from the car into the laundry before massively unloading the rest of my clown-packed car into the living room. Soon I learned that everyone was accounted for, a relief despite my disappointment in not getting my college reunion.

I visited my next-door neighbor Ann and got some delicious and calming pie and soon after my dad came home from the grocery store. My cats were delighted to see me (at least I would like to think so) and I cuddled Graycie until she began to look annoyed. Meanwhile, my relatives from my dad’s side of the family in upstate New York were in town. It was the first trip down that they had been able to make in years and the hurricane was about to cut it short. Again, though it was the first time I had seen my dad in several months, soon we were both out the door to meet up with the relatives for dinner. It was wonderful to see everyone again and the restaurant we ate at had the most gorgeous waterside backdrop – made even more impressive by the tempestuous winds beginning to toy with the waves.

We came home full and happy, and I vegged on the couch eating more junk food (and by that I really mean popcorn) and watching more tv (and by that I mean a USA marathon of Psych that turned into another marathon of Monk) than I had in a while.

The next morning we said good-bye to my Aunt Lorraine, Uncle Bill, Aunt Judy, and Uncle Doug before they began the drive west away from the storm. I continued to stuff my car full of whatever random things I believed I would need for the coming semester. My visit home had been less than 24 hours, but I needed to push on.

Elvis Lyrics

My trip home, in reverse

I left my home in Norfolk Virginia
California on my mind
I straddled that Greyhound
And rode on into Raleigh
And on across Caroline

We had motor trouble that turned into a struggle
Halfway across Alabam’
Well that hound broke down and left us all stranded
In downtown Birmingham

Right away I brought me a through train ticket
Ridin’ across Mississippi clean
And I was on that midnight flyer out of Birmingham
Smoking into New Orleans

Somebody help me get out of Louisiana
Just to help me get to Houston Town
There are people there who care a little about me
And they won’t let the poor boy down

Sure as your born they bought me a silk suit
Put luggage in my hand
And I woke up high over Albuquerque
On a jet to the promised land

Working on a T-bone steak a la carte
Flying over to the golden state
Ah when the pilot told us in thirteen minutes
He would set us at the terminal gate

Swing low chariot come down easy
Taxi to the terminal zone

Cut your engines and cool your wings
And let me make it to the telephone

Los Angeles give me Norfolk Virginia
Tidewater four ten o nine
Tell the folks back home this is the promised land calling
And the poor boy is on the line