note: I haven’t had time to edit or go through this much but wanted to post something as it’s been a while.
“Bon Voyage!!! Will be rad when we’re in the same time zone!” That is the message (still there) left on the wall of my Myspace page in August of 2009. Written by a girl I would eventually fall in love with. Today is October 17, 2011, a couple of weeks before I (think) I will be leaving here yet again. There won’t be any messages like that on my Facebook page or Myspace wall…or my Friendster this time though.
I’ll write more once I get into this trip a little more but anyway, traveling west again. Work didn’t work out as well as I thought it would and I rather enjoy living day to day out of bags. Right. I’m in Rochester, NY a mere 400 or so miles into this 3000 + trip. This is usually the time of the trip I am most energized even though there is the least to see around here. In the daytime, especially when it is overcast, Rochester looks like every JG Ballard story takes place here; a grey faceless city with streets that never end or go anywhere good.
So when I arrived last night I wrote:
Just before winter’s cruel frozen fingers can turn me all types of white blue gray and black I got out. Not before one brief little storm, a reminder of those six (thousand) months of winter. Wasn’t hard saying goodbye to New England again, was hard saying by to family and one friend I wish came with me. Spending a week out here alone is always a test I’m ready to pass.
Almost a week into this or what seems one and not ready to stop at all. The first half of this country is kind of boring. Its all one color and one temperature; I love it just the same but I feel like I know it enough at this point. The trip has been an interesting one so far. I think I’m making good time; although sometimes you hear people doing this trip in three or four days because they have a second driver. That sounds horrible and awful to me. Most shit people are into doing sounds horrible and awful though.
The first couple of days were non-eventful to the point where I barely even listened to music in the car. Rochester, NY and Dayton, OH were the first two cities. After that I met up with an old friend in St. Louis.
On the way to seeing Mike I stopped (as usual) in Effingham, IL, which is tucked between Indianapolis and St Louis. There is a Nike outlet store there and I needed more sneakers. The fifty or so pair in my car right now (including ones I bought here in the past and haven’t worn yet) is apparently not enough. I only ended up buying two pair. Before hitting the road I hit this fast food place called “Steak and Shake” which in retrospect is pretty disgusting. Sitting across from me is an elderly woman wearing a Frosty the Snowman sweatshirt. It is November 4th and relatively warm outside, but I am in the middle of the country. She is sitting with who I assume is her son done up in cowboy boots and mustache and accent. The woman is eating a hot dog. The scene is pretty normal for this type of place. There is a little commotion at her table and I look up from my dry burger to witness her vomiting hot dog and what looks like Cream of Wheat from thirty-five years ago into a napkin. I end up finishing my sandwich and hitting the road. I post a condensed version of the events on Facebook and people laugh. I’m not really a funny person I just happen to witness things like this that I can report to people and then they can decide if it’s funny.
I have known Mike from the Internet for over a decade now from an old journal website we were both on just as long ago, Diaryland. I have been through St. Louis a few times and even stopped, but I never got a tour of the city like Mike gave me. He is a very smart guy, great personality and was a great host. It’s also nice to talk to someone as passionate about baseball as I am. Actually more. Also of note was the fact that the Cardinals just won their 11th World Series a week ago here. I got some pictures of the ballpark, saw some great looking neighborhoods and buildings and ate some good food. I can’t wait to go back there now.
The drive to Oklahoma City the next morning seemed short. Normally driving through Missouri feels like it takes a year. So there I am driving along the morning after staying in a place called Rolla, MO. There is a car pulled over by the side of the road and a person standing outside of it. As I get closer there is an elderly person bent over vomiting on the ground while the driver of the car stands watching. Good times in this part of the country indeed! What the hell are they eating out here?
I was going to see my ex-girlfriend of seven years and her new boyfriend and maybe stay on her couch that used to be in our living room. I ended up opting out of the invitation to stay on the couch for a motel. Seeing her and being in that city was bittersweet. We didn’t really end on a bad note but on the other hand since her and I broke up I haven’t been able to settle down anywhere or with anything. I’ve been semi-homeless since August of 2009. Her boyfriend was very nice and we had a good dinner, hung out at her place for a bit and then I went and checked into a pretty dirty motel nearby. The day before there was an earthquake in Oklahoma City, a small one. Around 11:00 PM I heard a low rumble, like something was being moved above me, this got increasingly louder and more violent until about thirty seconds of the room and ground shaking. I never realized how loud an earthquake would be. Jodie immediately texted me “did you feel that?” The earthquake the day before was smaller and this one ended up doing some small damage from what I saw on the news. So what did I do during that thirty seconds? Did I get under a doorframe like they say? No, I stayed on the bed watching King of Queens until it stopped and opened my door after. A bunch of other doors opening with accents from all over the country figuring out what they just experienced.
Leaving Oklahoma City the next morning, destined for another city nobody has heard of I felt an overwhelming sadness over me. This part of the country is real lonely feeling to me. Seeing her having a life in OKC again is great but just reminded me of how much I miss her and the good parts of our relationship at this point. Not to the point where I want to go back or anything, just that my life has kind of gone downhill since then. Taking these trips doesn’t help these types of feelings to come out. I have been listening to a lot of talk radio and podcasts on this trip in place of music to avoid too much thinking. I have to do quite a bit of thinking when I arrive in Los Angeles, why have any cares in the world now? The brief thirty-second relationships I develop on the road by myself are enough to sustain my contentment for fifteen minutes or so; the attractive waitress Bianca at the breakfast place, the guy with the appealing perfect Midwest/southern accent at the gas station, the fat kid at the hotel counter. These are all my friends this week. I haven’t talked to anyone on the phone besides my mother and one other girl from far away. The texts from good friends and comments and the like on Facebook over the week has also been great.
In Amarillo Texas I went to that place where you can order a 72 oz. steak and if you eat it in an hour it’s free. The place is like a playground for white people in Texas. I noticed one thing about Texas. Everyone from Texas looks and sounds like they are from Texas if that makes any sense. My waiter was a young man dressed up as a cowboy with a little mustache coming in and that accent. All the women working there were dressed as cowgirls which as it turns out is kind of attractive. Well, on the attractive women. On the ugly girls it just looked like some bird you would see in Walmart and ignore. I didn’t order the 72 oz steak but I did treat myself to some beer and a more food than I could eat. I watched the last few minutes of the Patriots game (I’ve been wearing a Patriots hat this whole trip). A few guys clapped when they lost. Fuck you guys, you guys live in Texas. Leaving there at dusk was nice. Driving through these flat places as the sun going down, there’s nothing like it. On this particular evening I listened to Explosions in the Sky and some 90’s music to keep me sane for a few more hours.
More late night ramblings from last night in Flagstaff, AZ:
I love that you can sneak in and out of these towns quiet like this. I am almost at the end of this trip and it feels different from all the others. I think because the idea of driving this long of a distance is such a chore and does a number on you after a few days I like it. It feels like I am still working. I still can’t believe I left that quick without a chance. Things started looking up there and then all of a sudden looked grim and horrible in the span of a week.
Today’s drive was amazing. Waking up in New Mexico is always nice especially when you arrived there at night. I did some good chunks of driving on Rt 66. It snowed for a good chunk of the drive and I had to get off before I was going to for fear of my safety. There are elk everywhere on these roads and the blinding snow was starting to become a problem. Not necessarily for me since I have driven in that stuff all my life, but who knows if these other people know what they are doing. Most of these interstates are filled with people from somewhere else.
Thoughts for the last couple of days: am I making the right decision leaving there again? I honestly feel so comfortable and okay with driving these long distances by myself I could turn this car around the second I get to Los Angeles and drive back and have no problem. Good Lord I miss my friend back home.
I have much more to go through, I’ll post later. For now, on to Vegas for my last night of the trip.