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American Road Trip, 1998


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1998-08-08 - 12:10:57

South Bend

American Road Trip: South Bend

TUESDAY, AUGUST 4, GRANGER, IND. — Weird. The only way I can describe it. I’m near Notre Dame, with a family I know only from one of my best ND friends — and she’s not even here. No one is. Summer school’s even ended. I don’t know what I’ll find when I go to campus tomorrow — but I’m anxious.

The time with Michelle was great. I really feel we got to know each other better because of the time I spent there and we spent talking — so much of it too. Today was some quick errands — a couple of bookstores, lunch at a burger joint; earlier discussions of our photos — then Rob Finch came by and we all had an enjoyable, pleasant conversation about things — including an Observer swim party at Michelle’s pool, and what it’d be like with people like Stark and Dalum there.

When it came time to leave, Michelle and I embraced in her garage with the rain pouring down right next to us — another tight, wonderful embrace. Earlier we listened to our favorite Dave Matthews Band songs — #41, Say Goodbye, Crush — and before Say Goodbye, I said, “So, here we are tonight.” “You and me,” she replied. “Together.” Then silence, neither one saying the next line, which I thought was, “Tangled tongues and lips,” but isn’t. But me thinking about it — and hopefully, she thinking something. Ooh, I hope. Maybe. I believe Michelle and I could ... but there’s a boyfriend there now. So leaving Michelle may have been one of the toughest goodbyes of the trip — and then I saw Chicago, and I was in familiar territory again.

I took the Skyway to get out of the traffic — certainly worth the $2 — and drove like mad for South Bend, putting my 35,000th miles on the Volvo 19 miles west of exit 77. All the way, thinking of Michelle and Heather, and of Bryan and all the others I’d spent four years with who wouldn’t be here. It was all so weird. And I’ve gotten to the point where I don’t want to work anywhere else right now — I want to be here, where so many good friends will be — and will return. I will just have to deal with any disappointment because I’ve let myself get to this point. But I don’t think there’ll be disappointment. And working here I’ll see those I love who are returning — and at least with Heather and Michelle, I’ve got a decent shot — if it’s not me, it’ll be the guys they marry.

Wonder if maybe —
Without her boyfriend, could we?
I may never know.

WEDNESDAY, AUGUST 5, GRANGER — I think Steinbeck says something about change in Travels that I’ll have to look up. But we resist it, even if it may be good — which is often something we can’t see while we’re resisting.

I walked around campus today. I drove through Campus View. I remembered a lot of what’s happened in four wonderful years here. And it all seems so unreal. I think I cherish memories, but I pack them up and take them with me to live in the present. So many things at Notre Dame were great for me, but I walked around campus today looking at what was no longer. Maybe it was just adjustment but I don’t have much time. There were a few changes but I covered them in an e-mail to Brad, Heather and Michelle and Jamie — check the draft.

Saw Steve and had a nice conversation and got my hair cut and found out Kregg’s on vacation. Spending the afternoon at the Kleisers’, lightning came probably as close to me as it ever has (I was safely indoors), and as a result (I believe), the phones here no longer work. So we’re living on cell phones.

Forget Mary — there’s something about Michelle. I’ve hardly stopped thinking of her since I left her — 30 hours now. My horoscope even alluded to it — something about not saying anything yet, about not revealing true feelings. So I won’t yet.

But I was thinking — how could Patrick not be good to her. They shouldn’t even be having these conversations and arguments. She shouldn’t be crying after a phone call when I show up to see her for the first time in months. And she mentioned something about being ready to dump him. Hmmmm...

While she was in Chile, he tried not to think of her, to be careful knowing he wouldn’t see her for five months. I’d be thinking of her as much as I could — it makes me smile especially now. I’m actually believing I could tell her, I almost should tell her — that’s because I’m 150 miles away ...

Have you ever needed anyone like Michelle? Someone whose smile turns gray clouds to blue sky — whose laugh reminds you of all the good times your mind can remember — whose sense of humor so well matches your own you know the jokes will get a laugh — whose sentimentality is so similar she remembers the same little things — whose golden hair attracts the warmth of the sun, and turns it outward from her — whose hugs are so safe and encompassing those arms wrap you in and shelter you — who finds her way into your thoughts so much, you don’t feel so far from her ... yet seem a world away? It’s happened.

I spent the evening on the couch with the remote and missing Michelle.

So many changes
To the Notre Dame we know —
We won't see the end

THURSDAY, AUGUST 6, GRANGER — Left a message for Tim on his voice mail. But, more importantly, I talked to Margaret Fosmoe and was reassured a bit. Hopefully soon — tomorrow — I’ll talk to Tim. Otherwise, I don’t know when I’ll leave here.

A touching e-mail from Heather today helped too. It’s those reassurances that keep us going. She also asked me to light a Grotto candle for her grandfather — and that means something to me, too. Very little actually happened today, so there’s little to write about — dropped off Heather’s birthday card, bought 12 rolls of photos, checked e-mail, saw Steve, heard about Joe Montana filming a commercial, called Marc, got the oil changed and began reading the screenwriting book, which has got me excited to write.

And I thought of Michelle.

Something about her
Makes my heart float inside me
Like no one before

FRIDAY, AUGUST 7, GRANGER — After lunch with Steve at — BW3! — we hung out at the Stadium watching the managers and Joe Montana film Adidas commercials. We signed up to be extras — but they cut that scene. Still got $10 for waiting around, though. Had dinner and met Steve’s parents, then took another series of ND at night photos.

But last night —lying in bed listening to those three Dave Matthews songs — #41, Say Goodbye, Crush — I thought so hard about Michelle, wondering if I was crazy, aching to see her, hoping to be here, my heart light, pushing against my breastbone. And I convinced myself that we could really have something if we tried — Now, to convince her.

Quarterback legend
Standing there amid gold mist,
Cameras rolling

SATURDAY, AUGUST 8, GRANGER — Spent a lazy Saturday reading the screenwriting book and becoming more excited and confident about my idea. Also watched Cubs and Cardinals — McGwire #46, Sosa #44, Lankford one for us, and a 908 Cards win, to put the Mets half a game behind Chicago, and three and a half ahead of San Francisco.

So I’m frustrated with the Tribune — and feel I’m now wasting days here. If I’d though, I could’ve spent the weekend in Michigan, then come back. I’m a little homesick — but also aching for this, South Bend, to be my home. Something will happen by Wednesday, when I’ll go.

A trip recorded —
Thirty-six days on the road
In America.

SUNDAY, AUGUST 9, GRANGER — Things began to get real frustrating — not knowing what to do, not able to do anything today anyway, and not having any e-mail or anyone to talk to. The phone situation was resolved, and I was able to get online — for nothing. I watched the Cubs and Cardinals and then went out browsing around Media Play and Office Max. Checked Kregg’s and Julie’s, but they weren’t home — despite both cars there. The Kleisers had returned so we ate, talked and watched TV.

At 7:30 I gave Kregg and Julie another try and they were home. “Oh, it’s Dan,” Julie said as she opened the door ... paused ... “OH MY GOD! — IT’S DAN!!” after realizing the surprise and unexpectedness of the moment — and that I shouldn’t necessarily be there. We talked for two hours and by the end I was beginning to feel better about some things. Kregg’s uncle Ray works at the Trib, and Kregg was helping me out. But just their reassurance in me helped. From there I parked in D6 and walked around the lake to the Grotto. Just as it had from my first solo freshman night trip there, the time spent just sitting, staring at the flickering candle warmth helped me, and I felt even better. I began to be convinced that the letter — or something — I did Monday would work. I lit a candle, said a prayer, took a drink and walked back feeling very good about myself.

Grotto solitude —
No matter who else is there —
Is always peaceful

MONDAY, AUGUST 10, GRANGER — Something worked. Something I did — Sunday’s e-mail, Monday morning’s hand-delivered letter, or the Grotto stop — led to a phone call this morning from Tim Harmon. After that, my world felt a lot easier, and I felt no pressure to do anything today. Kregg called too, but by then I didn’t need him. So I worked on the screenplay (as Tim called), checked the e-mail (got a fabulous one from Heather), played a lot of solitaire, and took a nap. I then began reading Into Thin Air and became immediately hooked, finishing 110 pages to this point. At 7 I went out for dinner, took a drive to Potato Creek and back to campus. A stop at the library led to another e-mail check and then I made one more Grotto stop before returning to read and go to bed.

All that hard stuff, the waiting and the frustration is over. Tomorrow, I just have to talk, be myself, and sell myself.

Finally phone call —
The waiting is now over
Next an interview

TUESDAY, AUGUST 11, GRANGER — The last entry from here — tomorrow I’ll be at Nick and Jane’s. The interview went well, but now I’m so far from that it barely seems worth talking about. Several openings — Will hear in a few weeks — yada yada yada. Seinfeld last week — Jerry and Elaine moving in on the broken-up marriage; today Kramer has a crush on Jerry’s girlfriend; The Simpsons today Millhouse is ga-ga over some girl. — Why so much about this after I’ve been with Michelle?

Tonight a final stop at the Grotto was nice — something I needed. I lit a candle for Heather’s grandfather, then one for myself right next to it. Two of the big ones, with all those others burning, but set apart by themselves on the row. Then I called her tonight. First I talked mostly with LJ and Brad, then she and I talked for maybe 45 minutes. She’s really become a great friend and we share so much now. She’s made the name Heather special again — in fact, I hardly consider the other one with that name, as I used to. “Heather” now is all good. She and I have one of those relationships, one of those connections I covet so much — it’s something I need from someone, and I’m so grateful when I find it. And I’m always so thankful for that. We talked so long about so many things the conversation naturally took on several tones — Anger, frustration, rage at the office situation — Sick, silly humor — Deep, sentimental thoughts; and sincere, heartfelt expressions of admiration and affection for one another. At least I did. Looking at her, I see what I want in a woman — except for the boyfriend.

Bittersweet goodbye —
With slow, reluctant hang-up,
A piece of our hearts

Sweet voice on the phone,
Where Austin can sound so close —
But never enough

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Next page: Springwater, N.Y.

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