Chapter 12: Notes From The Road (AZ to CA)

“I had a dream last night that a woman placed her old, worn hand around the back of my neck. Her bracelet hung cold and limp against my skin. I still felt her palm around me as I regained consciousness. After a few moments, I rolled over. There was no one there.”

[Palace Music – “Old Jerusalem” MP3]

“It’s been a long day of driving. This morning Liz, Emily and I drove up Mount Lemon. We ascended to an elevation of about 8,000 feet. That’s where we stopped to walk around. Then we went up a little higher, to Summer Haven, where we bought pie. We skipped going to Ski Valley and the peak of Mount Lemon, but I think I saw enough to understand how truly awesome it is looking down over countless miles of houses and desert. Cars were smaller than ants. It was spooky. At 1:30 I departed from Will and Liz’s and I stopped off at Matt’s to leave a little anonymous note that simply said “Faggot” in his mailbox. Consider it payback for the times he left similarly worded notes under the windshield wipers of my car in high school. I drove down Speedway, back towards the campus of the University of Arizona. I drove down University, parked, and walked the stretch by Frog N’ Firkin’ and all those little boutiques and stores which surround it. I stopped at Chipotle for a burrito and then I hit the road back on Interstate-10. I stopped a couple of times to relieve myself along the way. At about 4:00pm Pacific Standard Time, I was maybe 40 miles from Yuma when I started to feel a wave of nausea wash over me. I was no longer basking in the glory of my Chipotle burrito lunch. The nausea lasted for 15 minutes — bad nausea where I thought I would have to pull the car over to the side of the road and vomit. Or, I could find a rest area in which to maybe even induce vomiting. But…I did not. I kept chugging along to Yuma. I stopped and filled up my gas tank. I could feel the sun scorch my skin. When I started the car I saw that I was 121 degrees. I thought, “That can’t be right.” Now it’s settled at 107, 108. From Yuma it’s only a stone’s throw to the border of Arizona. The state sign was blue with a yellow flower on it that said “Welcome to California.” Nothing too incredible, really. About a mile beyond the border I noticed the texture of the earth appeared to change, and it reminded me a lot of sand. I had heard from someone that I was going to see sand dunes, but honestly I figured it’d just look a lot like dirt mounds. Then I went through an inspection station, and I was asked where I was coming from. I said, “Tucson,” and I was allowed to pass. All of a sudden, just in the distance, I saw sand dunes. Literal sand. Baghdad sand. Waikiki Beach sand. No vegetation. Just Beach and fucking Baghdad sand. And I thought, “What better time to make a ‘combing the desert joke,’ only I realized once again that I’m in this car alone and no one is going to hear my joke. I don’t know what desert this is, if any. I haven’t consulted a map in a while so I don’t really know for sure. I am a little under two hours from San Diego right now. I called Corey, who is going to give me a place to stay tomorrow and maybe Wednesday in Los Angeles. I text-messaged Molly. She’s excited to hang out. She said Monday and Tuesday she wants to hang out. Tucson was a blast. I couldn’t have really asked for much more. Oh, wait. I could have asked for a single one of my interviews to have occurred. I could have asked that my contacts…you know…contacted me back. Yeah, I think that I could have asked for that much more. Um…I think I really like Tucson. I really like Tucson. It’s a small city, but it’s confused. It thinks it might be a big city. I like places like that. They’ve got heart, pride and good people in them. It’s easy to get around by car, there isn’t any traffic. There are a lot of young people who are friendly. Maybe that’s just if you stay in that area of town where I was. All in all, it’s just a great city and a fun place. Now I am in the great state of California, with just this incredible blue sky and unusual cloud formations above me. I just have no idea what to expect. No idea whatsoever, but I’m ready to take it on.”

[Tortoise – “Along The Banks Of Rivers” MP3]

“When I was a kid, a child, I should say…and my sister and I were making sand castles…Oh my God, I’m in Devil’s Canyon…Jesus. It’s beautiful. Well…When Elissa and I were little we used to make sand castles on the beach, and we would top them off with ornate designs of wet sand. What you would do is, dunk a fistful sand in a pail of water and then make a fist and let it drip out from the bottom of your fist, out of the bottom of your hand, and what would happen was, the little droplets of wet sand would solidify in tiny layers, and you’d wind up with these little artsy sandcastles that were topped with, like, layers upon layers of stones. That’s Devil’s Canyon. Instead of being just giant rock formations, these are thousands of smaller rocks just piled one on top of the other. It’s indescribable. Looking out over this thing…hold on. It’s insane that for miles, you’re basically at sea level, and then suddenly you’re in this Canyon, and then you’re 3,000 miles–err, sorry 3,000 feet above sea level. I guess 3,000 miles would be pretty high. Yeah, 3,000 feet above sea level, up through these cavernous stone mountains that just are the only thing surrounding you. Every hundred yards or so there is water for people whose radiators overhead as they drive up into the mountains. The temperature has dropped from 103 degrees to 88 now. Steadily declining we are, coming down from a great height.”

[Spiritualized – “Spread Your Wings” MP3]

“This is what it is. The chance of a lifetime to change the way I perceive the world. I feel myself growing. My own little internal paradigm shift continues. There are no longer broad generalizations. Folks are all different. Our interactions with one another differ vastly. It’s like putting together pieces to make a puzzle. We all fit—the problem is finding a pattern; figuring it out. Set a course around the nation. Sail to the moon on a ship alone. The uncharted regions in space are beckoning. On Earth, the pious scream for a day of reckoning. The rapture approaches. The big one will hit any day now. I watch the news to stay informed. I don’t want to forget. Keep yourself entertained when you are alone. Speak to everyone you meet. Learn the ways the world works. Try not to focus attention on what is out of reach, like the hearts of girls who are three thousand miles away. The same story in reverse writes itself left-to-right.”

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