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  • Shana Ritter

Different Roads

“We all make our ways the best we can through the world. Each of us is given a different road to travel." Chava, In the Time of Leaving




I drove from Bloomington to New York state. Alone in my car, with an eclectic selection of music on shuffle I watched the landscape shift from my long time home to my original home. The trees shifted to ones for which I remembered the names, as hills changed to flatlands and then to mountains.

In the relatively short time I was gone the beginning of autumn colors have become the full burnish of autumn tones. morning has become later, evening earlier. The dark is extending itself as the colors shift from bright yellows, reds and oranges to muted tones. Soon the brightest light will be the fire I make in the wood burning stove.

I went to my first ever yoga and meditation retreat and it filled me. A replenishment and a quieting simultaneously. I have been to many different writing retreats; but this was a very different experience. I bring back no pages, but hopefully a store of places to write from, to write into. The stay at Kripalu was bookended with visits to longtime friends and family, making it both familiar and new at the same time.

As I drove, and the miles counted themselves so much more quickly and easily then the distances undertaken in my late 15th century novel, In the Time of Leaving. I thought about Chava, Sarah and Isaac (the characters who still seem to be living in me somehow) and their journey, taken by force, not choice. A journey that unfolded them in ways they didn’t expect, that I didn’t expect.

It seems every time we undertake something we have never done before it changes us in some inexorable way, even though we may not notice it until an even greater distance of time lets us take in the greater landscape that surrounds us.

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