By Emily Rosen
Bet you never heard of Cades Cove, an enclave in the Great Smokey Mountain Range in Tennessee, pioneered in the 18th century by Cherokee Indians. Wikipedia has recorded its rich history, but nowhere is there any mention of the 1987 adventure of Ivy and Emily, rolling blissfully in the lineup of haystacks placed in the heart of this mountainous retreat … hundreds of haystacks deftly linked together like railroad tracks, for what possible purpose remains a mystery to this day. It does not matter.
What does matter is that Ivy, at age 30, and Emily, at age 60, spent a few hours off the trail rolling, lolling, giggling and squealing like 6-year-olds, sniffing the tangy, earthy scent, enduring the stray strands of dry twigs adhering to our warm up suits, (it was November) inebriated with mountain air and becoming completely mindless in the ecstasy of the moment —two city girls — women — who had never before been up front and close to a haystack. Okay, so it wasn’t sex. But some experiences come damned close.
When we came down from our high, walking toward the car to continue our road trip from Westchester County in New York to our Los Angeles destination, it went like this:
Emily: “Ivy, when you’re 60 and I’m 90, we’ll have to do something like this again.”
Ivy: “That’s a promise.”
Ivy had been my son’s live-in girlfriend. They broke up amicably and she decided to move to California to be close to her parents who had recently relocated there. She packed up her tiny Honda Civic, with her art supplies and personal effects, and mapped out her solo route to the left coast.
“Ivy,” I said when she announced her plan to me (she and I had become buddies). “Do you really want to take that trip alone?”
“Are you kidding? I’m dreading it. I wish I could find someone to go with me.”
Thus, we became the two generation, cross-country travelers of the late ‘80s. That trip has already been recorded in all of its quirky iterations, stops along strange by-ways, plans made and tossed, and remade, sketching the richness and diversity of people, culture, landscape and noteworthy encounters.
Twenty nine years have since passed. Ivy and I have kept in touch. For the curious, neither she nor my son have married – much to the betterment of any who might have succumbed to either of them. Both are happy in their singlehood, but that’s another story.
The e-mail I received from her a few weeks ago said, “Emily! We waited 29 years. My parents aren’t well. Who knows what next year will bring. I don’t want to wait another year to keep our promise. Let’s do it NOW!”
And so, plans were made. We’re meeting in Phoenix in May en route to Sedona, a different one of our enchanted places. Ivy is in charge of finding the haystacks. If that doesn’t work, there are plenty of mountains to climb.