21 March 2000
Both sides of my family come from Texas. I was one of the first to be born out of captivity, in Denver, or rather Wheat Ridge, Colorado. But the family line goes way, way back in Texas, so it's difficult to escape my heritage. It's woven deep inside my DNA, inextricably lasso'd.
The sub-comforter blanket in my motel last night, the blanket under the Killer Unwashed Blanket, was so staticky that when I turned out the light and shuffled underneath it, I could see the sparks flying from the static electricity. And it never stopped, no matter how much I tossed and turned, no matter how many times I ran my hands along the blanket. Tiny blue sparks illuminating the darkened bed. I'd never seen such a thing and it made me giggle. I think it's these minute wonders of science that truly make me happy, wonders that have absolutely nothing to do with human beings. Anything that's been fiddled with by people is inevitably tainted in some way, so I gravitate toward natural phenomena, weather, water, astronomy, geology. I don't think this is necessarily healthy, and I think it would be nice if I had more of a fascination with the taintedness of human beings, and I guess I do have some degree of fascination with that, a significant degree, but I don't find that much joy in it. It weighs me down, it troubles me, it complicates things. Interesting, yes, but does it make me happy?
Hang on. I guess I've always divided happiness into Simple and Complex. There's the simple happiness of sparks from static electricity, and there's the complex happiness of Alexis. Both have their merits, both are essential, and sometimes, and I guess this is when life really opens itself up as something powerful and endearing, sparks get complex and love gets simple.
I'm in Purgatory. That's what this trip has been so far. I thought it might be a journey from my old life to the new one, with various doors being closed and new ones being opened and trying to make that process as painless and seamless as possible, but so far it's just been a kind of ethereal no-man's-land, neither here nor there. As I sit here in the middle of the country, caught between the past I have in California and the future I have in Pennsylvania, I feel removed from both. I feel too far away from either. Alex asked me what I think about all day while in the car and I was hard-pressed to answer. I've done some thinking on the novel, planning some stuff out. I've obsessively tried to nail down my plans for as far in the future as I can, which is something I do probably five or six times a day and have for as long as I can remember. (By "plans" I mean just what I'm going to be doing in upcoming days, not really like what I'm going to be when I grow up and those types of long-term, meaningful plans.) (And rest assured that whenever my plan predictions turn out wrong and I have to be spontaneous and change things around at the last minute that I get super crabby.) I've let idle ideas come and go. But I haven't really done what I think you're supposed to do in situations like this, which is take stock of your life, evaluate where you've been and where you're going, figure out what you're going to do differently. Figure out, as my mother suggested, what made me leave my life in California, why I was unhappy there, in order to avoid the same thing happening again.
But I haven't really done any of that yet. It's like my head is wide open and the road just passes through it, and everything's constantly in the present. It's like the guy in The Music of Chance who just kept driving for years on end because he liked never arriving anywhere, he got used to the freedom of never stopping. I get to the end of my day and it's like it just swept through me, leaving only a few pieces of residue behind.
Is this good or bad? And why do I feel the need to put it in one category or the other?
I'm going to offer myself an alternate view. Because one thing I keep returning to is the fact that this trip is a journey toward something. The last time I did a solo roadtrip, back in 1997, I was running away from my life in California, getting away for almost a month, just driving around. But I knew that eventually I'd have to go back and deal with it, and deal with breaking up with my girlfriend, and moving out, and finding a new home, and finding a new job. There was a tension to the entire trip because that troubled destination was always waiting for me.
This time, I'm not looping back (the last roadtrip followed an extremely similar route through the southwest before stopping in Dallas and turning around and coming back to California). After staying here in Dallas for a day, I'll continue east and it will all be new terrain for me, literally and otherwise. This trip is a moving toward something, something better, something with a great deal of hope, and since I feel good about this move, maybe I don't even need to clobber it with analysis as I coast along. Maybe the hours and the miles are passing through me because I'm not fretting about every last detail, I'm not second-guessing every decision I make, I'm not paralyzed with fear about making such a dramatic series of changes. It doesn't require questioning, it just needs to be allowed to happen.
I think it's either that or I'm too sad and scared to allow myself to think about anything. Both seem plausible.
I ate at Whataburger last night in Lubbock which is only interesting because of its IJ connection.
Aunt Mary and Uncle Tom's fine home. They have two dachshunds and one got scared by the thunder and lightning and the other didn't. We played a variation of dominoes known as "chickenfoot" although it's even a variation of that because in the original Chickenfoot, you create branches of dominoes that actually look something like chicken feet, while in this one the imagery isn't quite as clear.
Today's Facial Hair Report:
Putting the "dyke" back into "van dyke"!
Fruitopia Peachberry Quencher. I have yet to try a flavor of Fruitopia that didn't make me want to cry with disappointment. They all have this flat, shrill flavor (do you enjoy my attempts to create terminology for describing non-alcoholic beverages?), all tasting like spiked punch, except punch that's been spiked with more punch instead of hooch.