We're staying in a hotel room off the I-90 interstate in New York state, just outside Albany: Nadine, Malissa, Jennifer and me. Four of us from Canada are driving down from Toronto/ Hamilton and are on our way to NAISA, the Native American and Indigenous Studies Association conference.
The day started off by picking up a rental car, then picking up the other three girls, then we headed south... through the border into the US... and down to Syracuse where we had dinner at Dinosaur BBQ, a place Nadine and I used to frequent back when we lived in Ithaca, just an hour south.
But more importantly, the conversation: in the car, in the hotel room now while I type this, while we had dinner, when we jumped out for coffee refills, we' ve talked a lot about things... Indigenous Studies, Whitney Houston, allergies to cats, colonialism, diaspora, food, research, and so on...
(And, some reassurance for Mum: Nadine and I are using our reusable coffee cups.)
Tomorrow we'll be off to Mohegan Sun, a casino/ hotel on the territory of the Mohegan iwi, where the conference will be held... this is the last conference of my sabbatical, the last time I'll have 'University of Toronto' written on my powerpoint, and the first time I'm giving a paper which focusses on three writers in my own family: Hamuera, Grandad, Uncle Paul. I'm also mentioning the writing of the other siblings - Aunty Martha, Uncle Fatty, Uncle Martin, Aunty Nanie - too.
We're getting so close to the one year anniversary of Grandad's passing and it feels right to be talking about him now. Remembering him, thinking about returning home, thinking about the journeys ahead.
I'm on the road again, but it's not a lonely road. It's a good one.