19 hours

Time is such a beautiful and odd thing. As I write this I am sitting with at a bar in the Salt Lake City airport drinking a local amber. (Yes, I love the irony of drinking local brew in Mormon country.) When I land in Nashville in a few hours I will have 19 hours from touchdown to take off for Africa. 19 hours to do laundry, the final bits of packing, sleep, have a pile of meetings, set up some more electronics, recharge a few batteries, and get on the next flight. 19 hours in which I will get much accomplished, test the theories of multi-tasking, and hopefully enjoy one last soak in my tub while watching a tv show on the trusty mac.

The last five days were spent in Montana pulling up childhood memories. I spent two nights at a cabin my grandfather built in Essex, which is basically across the highway from Glacier National Park. He died of old age and strokes while I was in college, but the cabin remains. Grandpa has no time left, but the cabin remains not quite frozen in time. Walks in cool mountain air, huckleberries and raspberries on wild bushes, and the trains not far away crossing the Continental Divide.

Then two nights in Cut Bank, the small town where my mom grew up which appears as a cluster of homes and trees surrounded by endless wheat fields and dry prairie grass. At night here the constellations still grace the night sky; this state is not called Big Sky for nothing. Grandma still lives in the home my mom grew up in – the one where we made more s’mores in the backyard and pinned on superman capes that were really towels as kids. Grandma is old and wrinkly, but still grandma, and she is still holding onto life. My other Grandpa lives down the street from grandma and is starting to fall to Alzheimer’s. Stories are repeated more than normal and there is much amazement that clothes can come out of the dryer completely dry – if you know how to use it. Here time is regressing and moving forward all in one. Somehow it seems appropriate that in this town with insanely wide streets that few people reach the 25 mph speed limit.

Before long my 19 hours in Nashville will begin, and I am working on getting my brain up to speed as it seems to have been put in the cruise control mom now uses to not speed in Cut Bank. I am headed from no cell reception or email to a life dictated by my iphone. From slow time to fast forward – all just a plane ride away in this nation that we call the United States of America.

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