Madison Goodbye, Part 2

Our permanent home in Lover, Pennsylvania

Robins and cardinals, catbirds and finches woke me this morning. Through my open window I heard the drumming of a woodpecker. From my bed I could see the trees were still dripping from last night’s rain. The sky promised to be another day of burgeoning gray clouds: lovely, full, heavy rain. I could hear and see nothing else. No cars, no shouts or honking horns from an apartment complex. It would seem a blessing, it is a blessing.

And yet I’m still thinking of Madison, Indiana. Even if my body can only be in one place, I think I have a forever bifurcated mind and heart.

Kurt tying down things in the bed of his truck in the dark before we left Madison

As I began to register that I am really, truly home again, I also registered what I am missing. My routine of waking at 5:30 to be out of Kurt’s way in the bathroom while he gets ready for work is over. I won’t be scrambling to get to the trail head before the town wakes up and the heat sets in. The comfort and safety of walking our property is offset by the longing to explore new places and have spontaneous adventures and meet people who grew up with a different vernacular and pretty southern lilts in their throats.

Thursday we were up late packing and loading some of the boxes to return home. We emptied the fridge to the only Madison friend we thought might be up so late. After 5 hours of sleep, we got up and did a little dance to the deflating air mattress. We’ve never used the air mattress for so long at any of Kurt’s previous assignments.

My little Hyundai, loaded for the move.

Kurt’s been on it since March. I only had to sleep on it for a couple months. We have now put a maximum air mattress cap of 3 days. From now on, we will cough up the money to rent or buy a bed at his assignments.

We finished loading the car and truck and headed out of town shortly after sunrise.

The trip wasn’t without losses, and I have yet to find my camera cord to upload the photos from moving day and final Madison day. Baxter had gotten into the trash I accidentally left sitting in the kitchen the day before and proceeded to throw up in my backseat for the next eight hours. It was a long trip home.

Conesville power plant. The beauty is in the work it provides for my husband and for so many other families.

And we weren’t going directly home to our permanent residence in Pennsylvania. Since Kurt’s next assignment is Conesville, Ohio, we drove the four hours from Madison to Conesville and stopped at Kurt’s plant so he could drop off a few items for his job and talk to a few coworkers.


Along the way, we passed the Longaberger building, in the shape of a giant basket, and I started making plans for packing up my jam to send to all my friends. I never seem to stop grieving places I’ve been, but I’m quick to distract myself with new endeavors.One of Kurt’s co-workers, Craig, had been looking at houses for us. He was looking in Coshocton, a little town up the Muskingum River from the plant. When I saw a sign noting “Three Rivers” I caught my breath. When you’re from a place of three rivers (Pittsburgh) which I’ve written about in my Rivers and Bridges blog, you always have a connection to water. Coschocton’s three rivers are the Walhonding, the Tuscarawas and their combination to birth the Muskingum. This has to be another place I was meant to write about.

Meanwhile, Craig had kept my writing in mind and found a rental that comprised the full first floor of an old Victorian. It had hardwood floors and a beautiful back yard for Baxter. It had stained glass windows and even a window seat writing nook that Craig thought would be perfect for inspiration. If you haven’t guessed, Craig is one of my favorite coworkers of Kurt. He’s a good ol’ boy and family guy. He loves his wife and his kids and goes out of his way to try to take care of the friends in his life.

Although we learned that the Victorian was rented just the night before, it meant a lot that Craig was trying to find us something that met both Kurt’s need to be a short drive from the plant as well as my desire to be near downtown and within walking distance of parks and intriguing writing spots.

We had lunch at Bob Evans and met an incredibly cool server who gave us some leads on landlords and real estate and some Coshocton websites. Although our day didn’t turn up any suitable rentals, I knew this new town was going to provide plenty of writing material.

We made our way back down to I-70 and finished the drive home. By the time we unloaded the cars, I crashed on the couch, unable to force myself to drive another hour into Pittsburgh to go to the Scott Russell Sanders reading I had been looking forward to for the last few months.

On Saturday morning I woke at 5:30. Kurt was lying next to me, deep asleep. I stayed in bed as long as I could, trying to will myself back to sleep but finding myself more and more awake as I imagined what trails or town walks I might be plotting if we were still in Madison. Then I daydreamed about the new walks I might find in Coshocton and wondered whether the people will embrace me as well as they did in Indiana. I ran my mind through the to-do list for this staycation as we prepare for the next assignment.

The Broadway Fountain in Madison, Indiana

As the rain pattered against the window I thought about one of my last adventures in Madison. Although it was raining that evening in Madison, we decided to walk around and just try to memorize one of our last moments together on the empty downtown sidewalks.

We walked without umbrellas and I practically danced under the heavy raindrops.

Kurt enjoying some precious free time in Madison by visiting the Broadway Fountain.

I led us to the Broadway Fountain. I was tempted to jump in, to dance under the falling water and splash among the pennies.

I wasn’t worried about getting arrested or defiling a public monument. I was clean and the dancing would be out of reverence so I felt it wouldn’t be any kind of sacrilege

Marla’s brief connection to the Broadway Fountain and to Madison, Indiana: one toe in the water; one foot ready to move on.

No, this hesitation was more about my connection to Madison. I was a short-timer, a feather that floats away with the next change of wind. The wind had changed and it was time to move on.

Like my all-too-brief moment in Madison, the most I could bring myself to do was dip a toe. One foot firmly on the ground, one in the fountain, like the way my life always seems to be.

I love you, Madison. Maybe we can leave this at “See you again, sometime.”

Love, Marla


2 thoughts on “Madison Goodbye, Part 2

    1. Ha. I know, right? And I love that you said “boot.” Everybody laughs at me when I call it a boot, but I just think that’s such a nicer word than “trunk.” Trunks are for elephants and clothing (of course in my boot there could easily be an elephant and clothing…

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