31, Scars are Forever

Monday evening, May 15th

I envisioned morticians as ghoulish, with secret desires to wrap themselves in cold sex. So while heading into Kansas City, when the driver said he was a mortician, my stomach dropped, picturing stainless steel tables baring grey bodies—picturing myself on one.

30, Failed Dreams & Family

Monday afternoon, May 15th

I’d arrived at the middle, of the middle, of America. Towns that I thought only existed in hokey movies came to life; in one hamlet white picket fences fronted deep green lawns; sentinels of huge oaks protected every lane; a white gazebo with lattice sides sat on a grassy plot in the town square; Roman columns presided over white marble stairs that led to a courthouse; next to it City Hall, a simple square building built of stone, reflected a solid people; it’s neighbor, the church, offered a white spire that rose above all else. I half expected a silver-haired woman to pull over holding a warm plate of chocolate chip cookies, her white apron and floral dress neatly covering a matronly frame.

“Jesus Christ, I hate this,” a young woman snapped once I stepped into her black VW Bug. She brushed black stringy hair from her eyes, took a look at me, and said, “I’m Lulu.”

29, Changes Changing

Monday morning, May 15th

Amid smooth green pastures, sitting quiet,
he’s in Missouri. But here it’s Missoura,
where May holds summer in its womb.
Birds swoop between trees like trapeze artists,
bearing costumes of magenta, yellow and black.
Mark Twain wrote this land.

28, Arabian Nights

Sunday afternoon, May14th

They both were trim, tall, and glowing with buoyant energy. In their old rag-top VW Bug we headed west out of Indianapolis with the sun slung low, staring us in the eyes. The day had been frustrating. I’d covered little distance and decided this would be my last ride of the day. The loose convertible top slapped the frame as we sped up, becoming a fast cracking whip at freeway speed.

“Right now,” Jonathan shouted, “I’m writing a play.” He wore his brown hair over his ears, but not shaggy, “and Liz is an interior decorator.”

27, Mojo Rising

Sunday morning, May 14th

Well rested, I bounded into the morning. My night in the motel helped me recharge with a solid sleep. Breakfast consisted of several hearty cups of water, but I felt ready for another day. The lonely desperation that had filled me in Key West abated and I took a step back to look at the trip, and my life, more holistically. Free and adventuring, the realization I’d only be young once reintroduced itself. No money—no big deal. Something will happen.

The first ride that morning lasted only an hour and a half, but we crossed Africa, Brazil, and Southeast Asia. Derek served as my guide.

26, Windshield Reflections

Saturday, May 13th

Florida isn’t known for its hills and heights. After winding through Tampa, I entered the town of Zephyr Hills, and noticed there were no hills. North of the missing hills sat Clinton Heights; before I passed through the heights must have left for higher ground. Madison Avenue slicksters had nothing on the folks who named these towns; they stretched their creative license to attract new residents. Next to both bergs sat a huge area on the map called Green Swamp—now there’s some truth in advertising.

25, Uncharted Intersections

Friday, May 12th

Loneliness now powered me. The clock ticked, counting down time until I’d see a familiar face. Money didn’t matter. Food didn’t matter. Reaching my people mattered.

Thumbing another 2,700 miles still presented some allure, but when traveling with a destination the joy of exploration is partially lost. Holding a total of nineteen bucks and no peanut butter, I viewed the return as a challenge to conquer. And found it became a perfect challenge, as long as I didn’t want to eat.

24, Out of the Blue

Thursday, May 11th

John let loose with a full-throated boom, “Hey! You want to take us sailing?” his megaphone hand cupped next to his mouth. He aimed his holler at a boat anchored 100 yards offshore. Late that morning we were wandering along a beach.

“Sure,” the lone guy on deck hollered back, “if you can get some women!”

23, Playing the Odds

Wednesday, May 10th, dark

“How’d you learn to play like that?” His question came as a compliment.

Mallory Square’s eclectic patrons were drifting off toward night activities, and I was blowing my last tune, looking at the dollars and quarters on my bandana.

22, Escape Attempts

Saturday April 29th – Tuesday, May 9th

Fresh out of jail, three thousand miles from home: no friends, no food, no job, no shoes, eleven bucks. I didn’t even know if I had a place to stay. Turns out I didn’t.

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