You Never Know Where You're Goin' Till You Get There


Dad sang a fun song when we were kids: You Never Know Where You’re Going Till You Get There. I don’t recall any other words, but, so far, it appears to be true.

I live on the cusp of two extremes at all times. For instance, we’d rented a beautiful apartment from Greg’s Aunt Lottie over fifteen years ago. Our block was sandwiched between gorgeous homes with wrap-around porches on one side, while the next block was in rapid decline. Our block was an interesting mix of both promise and disaster. One wood-shingled home featured fresh-painted paned windows while the home it faced bore a roof with a crater-sized hole that squirrels pranced in and out of in the rain.

When a bullet whizzed past our ice cream truck driver’s head, it triggered his retirement and our search for our first home. We found it on Long Island just as our siblings burst out to other regions.

Today I no longer find parking meter tickets shoved under my windshield wipers, and I remain thankful for a driveway in which to park our car. Our home is situated between a lovely development and the Audubon (Jericho Turnpike, home to my first car accident.) And until two weeks ago, I‘d never given this choice or the scarcity of wildlife much thought.

Over the period that Dad was hospitalized, I stayed with my brother, Tom, and my sister-in-law, Donna, who live Upstate and local to the hospital. I noticed that Donna cringed a lot as we spoke about the plethora of wildlife on their property. After she poured our coffee, she‘d placed the coffee pot back on the warmer, backed into a closet, ripped out a hand vac, turned it on, and vacuumed the air. She smiled and nodded, acknowledging my quizzical expression.

     “Friggin’ stink bugs!”

     “What the hell is a stink bug?” I asked.

     “They’re disgusting, some kind of beetle invading the northeast. If you smash them, guess what?”

     “They stink?”


I looked out the window. The country was a big change from Brooklyn, but they’d live there for ten years now and formed a wonderful fellowship of friends and community. Their youngest, our niece, Katie, is now a pretty young lady and loads of fun. She’s made lots of friends and developed a perfect blend of sweetness and moxie.

I thought about my life’s gravitational pull towards commercial busyness, like could I ever adapt to country life now?

     “Must be cool to see deer prancing around your property,” I said. Donna kept a firm grasp on the roaring hand vac and squinted at the air.

     “At first, yeah,” Donna said, “but then Tom, Katie and me each caught Lyme Disease.”

It was like I’d flipped a switch.

     “Oh sure,” she said, “when I was first diagnosed with Lyme, I defended the wildlife. ‘Well, of course,’ I said. ‘We are on their land; we’re in their way. Our house shouldn’t be here, you know?’ But when Katie caught Lyme, I said the hell with who was here first! When Tom caught Lyme Disease, I wanted revenge.”

Donna’s deep, blue eyes stopped twinkling, her fists tightened. 

     “Seriously? Now I storm outside and scream: GET OFF OF MY PROPERTY!”

Noting my wide-eyed expression and dropped jaw, her voice softened.

What do I know, I live near the Audubon, remember?

But if this was a trial, she’d won the jury, still.. she'd just begun making the case for hunting season.

     “In the ten years we’ve lived here, we never hit a deer. Then last year one ran in front of our van and caused twenty-eight hundred dollars in damage. The van was repaired. Four months later, while I drove thirty miles per hour, I spotted a herd of deer out of the corner of my eye. They ran across the road and I could not stop fast enough to avoid hitting a stray that ran right for my van. Same spot, same damage.”

Donna looked off to the side of my face, like she was speaking to munitions salesman.

     “The heck with Bambi, I want a rifle!”

As I write this, I look out my window noting the dense foliage as leaves change color and hear the  sounds of people hurrying from one place to another. Perhaps the song Dad sang when we were kids was true: “You never know where you’re going till you get there," and think maybe the next line is: So enjoy the journey, and do not expect perfect...