Carte Postale nos. 3 & 4: The Limbo Zone

Driving through the middle of these United States, Malcolm sent me a text with a photo that has become my favorite thus far.

Malcolm: This is the canal lock in La Salle, Illinois. Had to drive down and inspect the past? Love the engineering of raising and lowering water level by locking it in for boats. Of course, moving cargo by canal Is over now, replaced by trucking routes with which I am currently actively familiar.

locks in la salle, illinois

From Malcom’s son Ian: It’s beautiful even in desolation.

Marieke: Reminds me of the locks in Lowell!!

And later that day, I received the following text:

What time is it right now? I am in the middle of time zones here.

Seemed to me to be the very definition of the limbo zone. Between lives, time zones, and a place to call home.

Limbo can be an interesting place to be, not entirely unpleasant. Our home is wherever we are, and even as strangers in foreign lands, we can find comfort in the kindness of strangers.

This became clear from Malcolm’s text the next morning:


The diner is actually a little house on the side of the road in upstate New York. The interior is just as you’d expect a vitamin or 50 years ago. Maybe earlier because there is no jukebox or music playing no phones or laptops either. For me to take a picture would have been barbaric. There is a lady who runs it and she knows everyone’s order by heart. Someone walks in and she cracks two eggs on the griddle. Doesn’t need to ask him whether they want white, whole wheat, or rye. She did ask for my order as I sat at the counter, because I was a stranger in these parts.

I read this text and was reminded of all the places where I have been labeled a “short-timer.” My yoga teacher recently told us that all people really want is to be loved and accepted. It’s true. Whether I am a short or long timer anywhere, I just want to feel that I am worthy of love.

And from Malcolm’s texts, it seems that there is much love that comes in many forms, even from strangers.

Malcolm: The friendly toll collector somewhere along interstate 90 I went into the wrong lane at a tollbooth. I was supposed to pick up a ticket, but there was no one to pick up a ticket from. So I cruised on. Several hours later I came to another tollbooth at which a lady asked me for a ticket. When she learned that I did not have one, she said, “they usually charge you the full price for that, all the way from New York City, $18.60. Evidently she was not part of “they,” however, and we talked until she figured out that I had entered the interstate somewhere around Syracuse. She said, “that will be $6.80.”

As I pulled out, I wondered how many cars had grown in the line behind me during our discussion. Next time I’m in a long line, I’m going to remember that I once was the guy in front who, but for a thoughtful toll collector, almost had to pay $18.60.

Hope these pictures and experiences are what you are looking for. Hope you can still type in a way that allows your pinky to continue healing.

Thunderstorm outside. Big winds in Iowa.


Finding a place to stay in Oberlin was easy. On the internet, it was a list of places by religious denomination. I chose Episcopalian for $65. Turns out that the owners know Josie and Sophie Davis, who recorded the violin parts on “Push Farther.”

weather in iowa

Lightning and thunder and rain in western Iowa. But then there was the biggest rainbow I have ever seen coming out of the farm fields.

Dynamic skies, weather, comfort foods, and kindness from toll collectors. This has been your update on Malcolm’s journey west.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s