I’m sitting here listening to “Dink’s Song” (the film soundtrack version) trying to get a little bit sad, because I’m so excited about getting on the road again that I’ve been nauseous and headachy and keep waking up every two hours at night, thinking of things that I’m about to do and see.
I’m headed to Oregon, to work on a cool project with some friends. I’m going the long way, through the high desert and the Rockies.
Phoenix has been lovely. Really, it has. It’s been a full rounded experience of friends and anxieties and dancing and runs in the dark (because that’s really the only time you can go running, here). And I have to admit that work has been gangbusters since I got here—I’ve got myself linked up with a couple big corporations for copy work, ghostwrote a book for somebody, and then of course there’s all those swank hotel reviews. My church here has been transformative. I’ve even got out of town for a couple of months to go to Hawaii, San Diego, and a big loop from here to Hudson and back.
So I feel kind of bad, feeling like I can’t wait to get the hell out of here.
I guess it’s that thing, right? Everything’s great until you know it’s about to be over. Then all the things that you didn’t know you loved jump at your throat, or else all the things that you didn’t let annoy you start scraping their nails across a blackboard. In this case, the cockroaches that invade with terrifying enterprise. The choking dust that coats everything. The heat. Leann just had her rearview mirror melt right off her windshield…and was told by several people that this is normal.
This isn’t a kiss-off to Phoenix; really, it’s not. I expect to be back in the winter. Laurel is said to celebrate Thanksgiving in epic proportions…given last Easter, how can I refuse? Also, I just made friends a couple weeks ago with our adorable new neighbors. Also, I still haven’t been to Taliesin West or to Arcosanti. And there are at least 5 people I’ve met here that I want to interview.
Let me go on record as saying, to all the haters out there, that Phoenix is a lovely place. Goddam delightful. If you like eating, drinking, sunny skies, quality people, interesting typography, and a prevailing sense of camaraderie such as you only get when everyone’s in agreement to make the best of bad circumstances (meaning, of course, the heat), then you’d like it here. And really, the heat’s not that bad after the first few weeks.
Except in July. It actually is really, really bad then, and you should not be here if you can avoid it.
I feel like this leave-taking should be a lot harder. In fact, it’s one of the easiest I’ve had to date. I mean, no leave-taking is completely easy. That would be suspicious.
I’ve had the requisite omens of uncertain future…the General, for instance, wouldn’t start a few weeks ago. His starter needed replacing; like most hospital visits, it revealed more problems than I came in for. His engine has no less than 5 leaks, and the rear shocks are in bad shape.
So if anybody knows a good mechanic (preferably of the salvage yard variety) between here and Portland, let a sister know?
Also, I am the proud possessor of a scatty client. I took the gig on good faith and the promise of good money. Right now I’m waiting for said good money to turn up. We’ve already had one awkward conversation…well, he had an awkward conversation; I mainly sat there and waited for him to finish upbraiding me for my greed and unreasonable attitude. I’m now waiting to see if he requires another one.
So if anybody knows a good shakedown artist between here and Georgia (where said client resides), let a sister know?
It’s our libation to the gods, I guess—a little bit of confidence, poured out before a long journey. In the old days, we’d give of the provisions we’d stored up; nowadays, all we need is moxie, courage, whatever you want to call the willingness to leave our four walls. So we give of that…a little bit of the will, the courage, leaks like air from a tightly inflated balloon. Means we can’t go as fast, or as precipitately. And I guess maybe that’s the favor the gods do us, in return. I wouldn’t want to go so fast or so blindly that I miss something.
Also, remember when I first got on the road? I was so sure I had everything I needed…everything, I mean, that I needed that I could get. I had a new (old) car, a schedule, a savings account of $800, and only 120.8 miles between me and my first port of call. Before two hours was up, it looked as though the whole enterprise was sunk. And then three days later, it rose from the dead, thanks to friends I hadn’t seen in years…a couple of whom I’d never actually seen before, at all. (Kim, Kelsey, Kristi, Matt.)
I think my body is used to anxiety and doesn’t know how to handle positive excitement any other way. I’ve heard of this kind of thing happening—making yourself sick with excitement—but usually it involves children and Christmas. It’s kind of adorable, I guess. As adorable as stomachaches and insomnia can be.
But I thought it seemed only right, as well as a palliative, to temper this five-year-old excitement with some gravity of leave-taking sorrow and what have you. To superimpose a few beloved faces and homey rituals over my delirious visions of mountains rimmed by deciduous trees, and roads that curve and come out on open, dewy stretches of sky, and wind that feels like a kiss instead of a dying breath, on your face.
This fucking song isn’t working at all.