Work in Progress #8: Through the Nitty Gritty to the Good Stuff

CNW Bagel ShopI’ve hit yet another “thin” place that I’ll have to thicken up with more research before I continue with my narrative outline of chapter 6. My subject took a “motor” trip from New York to San Francisco in 1915. It seemed like a bit of a lark that had nothing significant to do with the rest of her life and I’d planned to give it a few sentences. It turns out I was wrong. It was a significant event that widened her horizons. Had she not taken that trip, she might not have arrived at her major life accomplishment.

So I spent the week in the Fifth Street Bagel Shop picking through her account of the journey, armed with a Rand McNally Road Atlas. I was looking for thoughts and feelings but I knew I had to get the facts down as well. She tended to mention city names without noting the corresponding states. Having lived in Pennsylvania, “Geneva” meant Geneva, PA. I discovered there is a Geneva in New York. Las Vegas is in Nevada. But there’s also a Las Vegas in New Mexico. Then, when we’d gotten ourselves to New Mexico, she mentioned a tiny little city I couldn’t find on any map anywhere. Had it become a ghost town…disappeared between 1915 and today? I checked the Rand McNally index for that tiny speck of a city, googled it, all to no avail. The city had disappeared. On the off chance that she made it across New Mexico into Arizona (highly unlikely given the condition of the roads and the brief time between entries), I checked for the city in Arizona. And there it was. And there went a half hour of my precious time!

I was a bit perturbed with this subject of mine. It would seem, that, after all the months we’ve spent together she could have had the courtesy to tell me that she’d crossed the border into Arizona. Surely I have a right to expect that. I had to console myself with all the lovely details she DID include that gave me a window into her personality and the way she thinks. The nitty gritty details, the when and the where of things, have to be there and correct. I suppose it’s in the quest to nail those boring things down that I stumble on the really good stuff.

Still, she really could have told me she’d crossed into Arizona!