“Mama? I Can’t Sleep”

Over a week ago, on a Monday, we began the hard push of driving back to Kansas City. We were all ready to see home again, with its multitude of comforts and the residents who were waiting for our return – Dave, the dogs, the cats, yes, even the chickens.

We started out early. I woke Danielle up and told her, “Take a shower and we will head out for a tiny bit of sightseeing before we hit the road. I want to have breakfast in Jerome. Who knows, we might run into Maynard Keenan!”

For those of you not familiar with the name, Maynard Keenan is the lead singer in three different bands, the two best known ones are Tool and Perfect Circle. I like his music, but Dee has every one of his albums and has been listening to him for over half of her 23 years. He co-owns a winery in Jerome, something I had learned after watching his documentary Blood Into Wine. Jerome is an old copper mining town, turned ghost town, and now home to about 500 residents, many of them artisans of various kinds. Personally, I would give my eye teeth to live there, and not just because Maynard is there!

We packed up, loaded a snoozing Emily into her car seat in the back and headed out. By the time we made it down the old highway, riddled with switchbacks and dizzying drops of altitude, both girls were fully awake and rather hungry. They made a bid for eating in Sedona, but I balked and insisted on driving further. “Just twenty minutes more,” I insisted, “You will love it there.”

As we drove in, Dee looked at the Victorian-era buildings and commented, “It looks a lot like a hilly part of San Francisco.”

We were looking for a specific shop that I had found on the Jerome website, but realized it was closed. I looked over at the clock…7:30 am. The entire town appeared to be shut down and snoozing soundly.

We drove slowly through the streets and finally found a place that was open. We sat down, ordered breakfast, and as the door opened again, I saw Dee looking over to see who came in. I teased her, “Looking for someone special?” The third time the door opened, though, my eyes went wide in shock. It…was…Maynard…Keenan.

Holy cow!

For an agonizing fifteen minutes we sat there, less than ten feet away from one of the most interesting rockers I have ever dreamed of meeting. Finally, her courage steeled, Dee walked over to him and asked for his autograph quite politely, obviously as nervous as could be. He teased her a little bit, but signed his name. With autograph in hand, she literally bolted out of the door, with Emily and me struggling to keep up.

We returned to the van, containing ourselves until we could get inside and then let out squeals of glee, shock and excitement. Emily looked confused.

It made our day. Throughout the day we would at regular intervals look over at each other and say, “I saw Maynard Keenan!” I think we both spent the rest of the day in a haze, breezing through the Grand Canyon Caverns before turning the car to the east and beginning our long trek back. By 9pm that night we were leaving Gallup, New Mexico, and Dee took the first shift driving while I tried to get comfortable in the back seat and snooze a little bit.

When her shift ended at midnight, I took over and she hit the back seat. She was still jazzed over the day and talked for a while until I reminded her she would be back on duty in a couple of hours and needed her sleep.

Minutes ticked by…

A voice came from the backseat…

“Mama, I can’t sleep.”

It wasn’t my four-year-old – she had been passed out for hours.

“Every time I start to drift off, all I can think of is that I saw Maynard Keenan.”

He could have been on tour. But he wasn’t.

He could have slept in that day. But he didn’t.

He could have fixed breakfast for himself at home. But he didn’t.

He could have eaten in the larger town just a few minutes away. But he didn’t.

I could have caved and said, “Sedona for breakfast sounds great.” But I didn’t.

Thanks to a convergence of amazing luck, perseverance, and one tiny little hope beyond hope, I was able to share a great moment with my eldest. At 23, she is no longer a child, she doesn’t need me in the same way as Emily does, but I was able to share that moment with her.

It felt like old times.

It felt like the 1,500 miles that will soon be between us again had vanished.

It reminded me of how much I miss sharing my day to day life with her.

It was a wild, unbelievable, oh-so-cool, bonding moment. And it made me glad, for the second time in my loooonnnggg road trip, that I had decided to go. I wouldn’t have missed it for the world.

And…

OMG…I saw Maynard Keenan!!!!!

Today Dee flies back to California. Back to the condo she shares with her honorary uncle, my oldest friend. Back to an kind and good boyfriend and his little one. I will miss her horribly. It feels as if half of me is here and the other half yearns for a daily connection half of a continent away.

I’ll miss you sweetheart. Fly safe.

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