katahdin is the name of the mountain where the appalachian trail ends (or begins) and myself and old rex despanol (i'd met him months earlier on a hill in north carolina) were climbing it together; el finale grande; with a cheap flashlight we'd just picked up at a gas station and shared between us like two fools which is exactly what we were (and still are, god bless his soul). it was 2 in the morning and the moon, which the flashlight was intended to be a supplement to, was obscured all to hell with mist and accumulating clouds and our sad little lonely beam of light in that sullen early morning was more of a cruel apologetic joke than anything else. but we kept on walking, both unspokenly sad that the walking, something we'd been doing religiously (no conclusions there) every day for the past four months, would soon come to an end (as all things must...life, happiness, love, etc.). and god knows how but we ended up knee deep in a pond and old rex was getting ornery (i was too) and neither of us with a hint or a clue (or a map) as to which way to go and i said (or maybe i just thought it), "man, let's just go to sleep and forget it for now," but we marched on and when we reached the top of that mound of rocks that was put there by the void of all that is, yes, we crowned that termination point, that desolation point, that end that would lead to other beginnings, and the clouds were flogging and walloping and there was a weary wooden sign "commemorating our achievement" and neither of us could have given two shakes (though we tried to (and forced some embarrassing photos)) and we found a little flat space and (shoes and all) contorted ourselves into our sleeping bags inbetween the boulders and went to a much needed sleep (what else was there to do?) and didn't care about anything and when we woke up the clouds had broken and split wide open (like canteloupes) and the sky was blue and and and and
a few steps back to where i met rex despanol on top of that hill in north carolina and he was off to a spring for some water and i thought who is this and he was who he was (just as you are who you never thought you'd be). we passed that night together (but separately) in a little lean-to that mercifully spared us the rain and we spoke very little, but enough, and the next morning, at a gawdawful primeval drizzly morning hour, he up was fidgeting and clanking away with his pots and stove and heating some horrible concoction which he gulped down and then immediately started packing and i cursed him (silently) for his cacophonous clang and told him maybe i'd catch up to him later and followed that comment with a non-committal “who knows.” ok, he said. and he left.
for the next three and a half months, off and on and on and off (but thankfully mostly on), old rex and i walked together to maine, to that mountain called katahdin. when we got to the disappointment of that day, to the end of whatever exactly it was that was ending and to whatever it meant to be there, i was restless and edgy. and disappointed (as always (when will this life live up to my mental expectation?)). it didn't feel right. nothing did (or does...or will?). we were soon to sadly part ways; him off to work on a boat in maine, me off to a month and a half of a godforsaken desolation void before i was off to give school another stab (more a default than a desire). on our next to last day together we went to a store and he bought some shiny new clothes to replace his holy rags (which i'd come to love). it was a heart-rending affair and he radiated his self-loathe at what he was doing (and i knew i'd be doing it soon too). when i saw him grab a stick of deodorant, and he saw that i saw, he looked at me with his serious, stern eyes and said, "not a word, hirsch" (but he said it kindly...and mournfully).
the next morning we actually hitchhiked back to the trail. i'd decided to reverse directions and walk south, back towards georgia, to intersect some people i'd walked with down in those parts many months ago (they were still heading north and i knew they had to be close). old rex was just going to spend some nights alone and try to figure out a direction for his life (an, to this day, unfulfilled challenge for both of us). when we found a suitable place for him to stop, he stopped. neither of us really knew what to do. we may have shook hands and muttered some goodbyes or something (though i'd prefer to think we didn't), and i kept on walking and the truth is not too long afterwards (once out of sight) i was bawling like a child (for life, for rex, for suffering, for everything, for this very day that i didn't even know would come (but here it is)).
i walked for a week and talked to the moose and to god (and had trouble differentiating) and finally i heard some familiar voices coming towards me and there they were, those happy little hobos i hadn't seen since snowy days back in georgia and i gave them quite a surprise (all of us with proper beards at this point) and we all went swimming in a lake and cooked a pilgrim's feast and traded wild stories (me mainly listening) and so then i did what anyone would do, i turned around again and walked north with them back towards that same old katahdin i'd just come from with rex. what else was there to do? what else is there ever to do?
as we approached the place where rex had stopped, i was kind of hoping he'd still be there. nope. gone.
after katahdin take two, we all (six of us) ended up going to boston and "dropping in" on two friends (god bless their poor, unsuspecting souls). in a matter of minutes their neat, orderly apartment was a mess of filthy sleeping bags, mildewy tents, and toxic socks. the shower was downright defiled and one of the guys actually emerged clean-shaven and baby-faced to a chorus of "noooo"'s and "what the hell?"'s but - and god you had to know this guy (and hear his voice, god his voice!) to appreciate the simplicity of this statement - he says, "what? i got a job lined up and they said no beards." and that was that.
but for me, that was becoming that too quickly. showers, deodorant, shaving, dear lord what next? all this rapid re-integration. to hell with it, i thought (yes, this thought, despite an increasingly imminent first day of school for me).
they all had tickets for some phish shows and invited me (ticketless) along. i went (why not?) and tried (half-heartedly) to score some tickets but ended up spending the night in their car writing on a little memo pad (where is that pad?) and feeling despondent (a seemingly constant condition that, in actuality, i lapse into and out of (all by my control)). ahh yes, this life, this life. who ever asked me if i wanted to join? i never signed up.
next morning we all went to a diner for breakfast and the bottoms of my feet started sweating and i could feel a dryness in the back of my throat and so i told them i was leaving (there was nothing else to do or be done (except everything)). they walked me to the greyhound bus station (lord almighty those bus stations, gawdawful long hauls across this monstrous country) and we bid each other farewells and i bought a one-way ticket to memphis, tennessee being told by the attendant, without a trace of sympathy, that 24 solid hours on a bus awaited me. i said goodbye to those pariahs and left them to wherever they would take their lives. as for me, i was taking my life back to tennessee. back "home." i called my mom from a payphone and told her when i should arrive and she said she'd be there (god bless her). with a book and my journal and some bagels (and a, praise god, empty seat next to me), i began to watch the country change and contrasted this with the consistency of me. how i change by not changing at all.
but no matter where i sit on that bull of a dog they call the greyhound there is drama (and me just wanting my peace and solitude, two impossible things in this world). across the aisle, a nice enough (meaning he didn't say a word) black guy sat (also both seats to himself). a mexican sat behind us (with an empty seat too) (all other seats on bus full). at the next stop, a girl (young, attractive, white) got on. the three of us prepared. who would she sit with? the black guy won (but, really, i won; maintaining my little sanctuary of solitude (all i want from this world though it often seems too much to ask)).
despite trying my best not to (which only made it worse) i heard the black guy spin tales of how he was off to such and such a college to be first string running back and then "for sure" off to the nfl. i was nauseous. however, the girl drank it all in as evidenced by "oh? really!" and "wow!" and "what's the heisman?" (god bless her soul). this guy poured it on and on and on. a professional. i couldn't read my book (much less write) so i just nibbled on some bagels and watched the trees speed by and counted them and listened to tall tales and started laughing (to myself...everything to myself). what else was there to do on this interminable peregrination?
several stops later after an eternal thirty-minute "break," the girl didn't get back on. it was back to me, the mexican, and the black guy. finally the mexican guy pipes up (previous to this point being dead silent), where's the chica?, he asks the black guy. that was her stop man. and what a stop it was! what you mean? that girl man, that girl give me a souvenir, yes she did! what you mean, "souvenir"? at this, proudly and triumphantly, the black guy pulls out some pink panties and (yes, this is true) balls them up under his nose and deeply inhales. in-cred-ee-bley! shouts the mexican. and all the while i'm repeating my mantra "don't talk to me, no words to me, don't talk to me, no words to me..." and then (of course) i hear a, hey man! hey you! you see this?! (so much for mantras...). yeah, i mutter. well, whatcha think? what was there to think? what was there to say? congratulations? disgusting? so i just set my eyes straight ahead and waited it out. you gay or something? (a duet of laughter follows).
i'm just eating my simple little cereals and fruits out of an emptied peanut butter container that i have had with me since canada (27 months ago) and transporting those cereals and fruits to my mouth with a sad wooden spoon that i bought off the streets of ecuador (19 months ago). the peanut butter container is warped because of the boiling water i put in it once in an unnsuccessful bid to make couscous. i now realize the position of my legs is a bit effeminate. sorry for that. do you recognize the hat? it's from a trash can.
no mother should ever have to go to a greyhound station, but there she was (and how many times she's been there) and after i sifted through all the bums (and i one, myself), i gave her a big hug and told her i was soon off to florida (always going) for a big wedding and that no, i wasn't shaving the beard, and that yes the plan was eventually to go to (of all the derelictions...) school. my buick was fine, she said, just one flat. yes, of course, always something.
but how great it is, when you've been away for too long, how great it is to see your mother, and though i'm certain she prays for the day when i have a door and a key and light switch, somehow, both she and my dad put up with, however reluctantly, this life i am living (and wishing i had more than one shot at...(and perhaps i will?)).
memphis was a whirlwind of cleaning and organizing my gear, (that pitiful adorable mess of a tent that kept me dry (sort of)). and my sleeping bag no longer smelling of earth and human but rather of tide and titanium dioxide (used in detergents and soaps and car paints (check your ingredients)). still no deodorant though. i had my dignity to maintain.
and then there was the reuniting with friends and family. i never knew what to say so i said little but was so glad to see everyone and yes indeed, despite my absence, life seemed to have gone on just fine (and perhaps even better?) without me.
so i changed the tire and it was off to florida where we paddled sea kayaks to a small island out in the gulf and caught up and looked at the moon and later, when swimming in the ocean, stripped the groom-to-be of his shorts and ran off (considerately leaving him a plastic cup on the beach to do what he would with (the poor soul)). truly a great time. and as i watched my buddy walk the plank to the wedding altar (shiver me timbers), i remember thinking, will that ever be me?, and to date it hasn't been and might never be but we shall see. all the while (and eternally) i was anxious about what was next (it's never now). which, for the now (which was then), was to drive back to memphis. school was starting. and i had to get to utah. or at least told myself i had to (perhaps needing a sense of purpose) (which, incidentally, i lack) (but, parenthetically, am still searching for).
the buick was ready and i was not. but it's all suffering regardless. whether it's school, whether a meaningless job, whether a self-convinced meaningful job, whatever the whether, it's all suffering. and all these babies being born too (god bless their unsuspecting souls previous to the great exodus (for which there is no re-entry)). so why not school? what else was there to do? god, so many things to do! and my heart in none of them (and all of them) (and some of them).
with my sad, grey kayak haphazardly lashed to the roof and my dear milk crates full of random possessions stuffed in the trunk, i left tennessee prepared to cross this country with my first stop being to see my dad (who'd met me and rex in virginia months ago on the appalachian trail for easter and feasted us both full of good eats (god bless his soul) (my sister was there too (god bless her soul))) in ohio. we went to the rock and roll hall of fame and saw an excellent exhibit on john lennon and as i was looking at all his scribblings and reading about his life and looking through those perfect circles at his eyes, i told myself i needed to leave this world and just find a place to write but i didn't have the guts back then and discounted it as an unrealistic, starry-eyed dream and finally woke up one morning and realized enough was enough. i had to get to utah (and stop this conscious dilly-dallying). time to get gone. bye dad. don't worry, i'll be (relatively) fine.
salt lake city. what did i know? nothing. but that was enough.
a late night arrival and me and a sheet of paper and a scratched down phone number of a friend of a friend of a friend who might have a couch and thankfully did (but what an imposition i was). three days until school starts. three million things to do. find an apartment was (dreadfully) priority one. what a vicious task it was. everything was either full or entirely too expensive or just plain strange (like the entirely too anxious older woman who lived with no less than twenty cats and seemingly no more than zero litter boxes. "and here's the bathroom we'll share, " she said (eyebrows twice lifted suggestively) "i'll think about it," i said).
now two days before school. i decided i needed a roommate to defray costs. someone. anyone. and that's when i met issifu (isss-EE-foo).
issifu (from ghana, africa) was in the exact same bind as i. both desperate and knowing relatively nothing of each other, we decided to (after "getting to know each other" over a hurried take-away chinese lunch) be roommates. i got on the ball and miraculously found something and talked the landlord into a discount promising we'd (issifu and i) mowe, trim, water, prune, rake, etc. (though i ended up doing it all...sigh). we hurriedly (school tomorrow) signed a lease and decided issifu would put the phone in his name (thank god for this...service cut six times during the duration due to astronomical outstanding four figure phone bills (my portion always paid by check the very day the bill arrived in the mail...sigh (again))) and i'd take gas and electricity (ignorant of the fact that my african ally enjoyed full blasting the heat and walking around in his boxers in winter no less (god bless his soul)). i can remember when it was all said and done and i had that apartment to myself that first night and i sat in the empty lonely place that was now "mine" with my back against the wall and drank a root beer and sighed (yet again) and thought how if this were life, then no gracias.
and then, yes indeed: school.
the first day was disheartening (my poor little ticker). all foreign language in english. out of my league and befuddled and already regretting my decision to come here. i had my work cut out for me. but i cut it out. i always end up cutting things out. what else is there to do?
i walked around campus that first afternoon with a dizzy head. there were all sorts of booths set up promoting clubs, organizations, causes (lordy, people and their causes, i'm so weary of it. let's all just live and let live. but don't flush toilets and don't use disposable diapers and don't eat at mcdonald's and don't patronize wal-mart and don't eat meat and kill your cell phones...ok, now let's just live and let live). anyhow, i was just aimlessly (with purpose) wandering around and a guy comes up to me with a cooler, opens it to reveal beaming red apples covered in ice and he says, "hi! you wanna an apple?" and i say, yessir! and grabbed one and planted my teeth in it and then his friend pops out of nowhere and extends a hand and he says, "hi! i'm elder (whateveritwas) and i'm from the lds church and we'd like to know if you're interested in learning about mormonism." and i'm thinking "hell's bells they got me" and me with the apple and all and marveling inwardly at the symbolism and what else was there to do but say, "allright." next thing i know they were whipping out all sorts of documents and calendars and tucking the book of mormon into my backpack and asking me, "is wednesday at 2 o'clock (oh clocks!) ok?" and before i knew it i had committed to six goldblessed weeks of mormon "lessons" (more on this in a moment) and well, the apple was sweet and refreshing and i pushed my luck and asked for another and got it (ask and thou shalt receive, right?).
so yes, there was school. one thing i couldn't stand was the competition (though i am my worst (and best) competitor). i always fully devote myself to whatever i do (mediocrity, never) which is enough for me (usually), but the professors were making it into some sort of bullfight. so i made an (or thought i did) agreement with some friends to retrieve my tests for me because i didn't want to see my grades and they were under strict orders of secrecy to reveal nothing when they gave me the tests which i shoved into my backpack and later into the recycle bin (without peeking). but as always when dealing with other people, things never work out because the first test handed back to me included these words, "jeez, hirsch, you got like the third highest grade in the class!" this put an acid taste in my mouth so i decided to meet with my professors (because i don't like acid tastes).
i knew it would be awkward to walk into an office and tell the teacher that i did not want to know anything regarding my progress in his or her class, but nonetheless (this drudgery, this life...), i made the appointments to do so. here's what happened at the first one.
hi dr. (such and such), i'm in your "blah" class. i wanted to see if there were anyway you could just keep my tests and homework assignments after marking them?
(oh boy) i'm sure this sounds strange, but i don't want to know how i'm doing in your class because i don't want to get caught up in that. it's not that i won't study or work hard. i just want to get the grade i deserve without thinking about it and being measured against my peers.
this is a very odd request.
i know. it's just. well. i'd prefer this. (in my head: please just heed this request, it's simple, let me leave and be done).
(opening grade book). well well! but your performance in my class is quite extraordinary. why don't you have a seat for a moment? we should talk. you might want to think of....
(instantly i was haunted by recollections of school before the appalachian trail when i got an unexpected request for my presence at the academic dean's office, the dean being an old woman who wore entirely too revealing low-cut blouses and rarely had not a cigarette in her mouth (or at least reeked of them). i showed up for my summons. she told me to sit down but i asked her if we could go outside to talk because i hate offices and she reluctantly agreed and i was glad for it. she asked me if i'd ever heard of the fulbright scholarship and i told her i hadn't and she was aghast. she told me that i had been "deemed a suitable candidate" to apply for this "prestigious" scholarship and then explained what it entailed and i listened and gently told her i wasn't interested which made her sadly wheezing lungs more so. she couldn't believe it. what are you going to do with your life? i'm not sure, i answered, i'm thinking of taking some time off (which i later realized was time on), maybe walk the appalachian trail, i said. so, she says, you're just going to walk your life away? (and those four words have stuck with me to this day). (the meeting ended). and indeed i "walked my life away" and it was the best walk i ever took.).
but here i was again. facing expectations and burdens i never asked for and hating it. (though i did find a way to never see my test scores, which was a consolation.)
(as promised) those mormons were coming to my house and teaching me about joseph smith and these golden tablets and showing me all these pictures of important people (all with sweet beards) and it was good, i mean, any opportunity to learn about something you know nothing about is good or at least it "edifies" you and gives you some concepts and names to drop which allows you to sound intelligent even though you aren't. so i bore (past tense of bear, though it did get a bit tedious) with it and finally i was tired of being a pupil and i tried to make these "lessons" more of a dialogue where we could challenge each other and they didn't much go for it. my questions were "straying from the subject." but i wanted to know what they knew about the other human (futile (what freedom when you realize the futility (which i have yet to fully realize))) attempts to put god in a box but they were marching on with their devotion to nephi and moroni and who else and so finally i decided to pull the plug on the lessons and that was that and besides i'd found a nice catholic church (with an interesting priest) and, well, the $1 ayce (all-you-can-eat) spaghetti suppers afterwards (with vegetarian sauce option) surely didn't deter me (god forgive me) (god bless god).
an intermission for you. please pee. i will just continue writing (actually i'm writing this very story at this very moment) in the heart of prague and hoping that all these onlookers will look on something else because their stares are making me nauseous and the bottom line is that i am not that interesting, i promise (yes, that's the same hat i found in a trash can).
i'd made a promise, a vow, an oath to myself that i had to get out of the city and school starting on friday afternoons and not returning until sunday evenings (in time for the ayce pasta...i mean...church). i'd sold out to the m-f lifestlye and if one thing was going to be kept sacred it was my weekends. it's hard (and i mean this) to go from living in the woods to the life i was now leading (or being led by) in the city. i needed release.
one weekend, a buddy of mine invited me out to colorado to ski where he was passing time as a lift operator and i went (via yet another hideous (this time overnight) greyhound trek) and i'd been skiing two times in my life previous (and not that fond of it) but before long he was taking me down the moguls (which took me down) but it was a good time mainly because i was with my friend and away from school (though i almost killed one of his friends (long irrelevant story) (which has never stopped me before but this time will (god bless that friend of his and sorry for the scar and i hope you had kaleidoscopic visions while you were unconscious))).
the greyhound (lordy) back to salt lake city and it was a horrible cold rainy/snowy night and i walked home under the sodium glow (with head held low) and got back to my apartment and heard issifu's tv on and rather than pull out my keys knocked on the door for issifu to let me in.
and johnny rockets if that door didn't open by the very hand of, not issifu, but old rex despanol!! i knew it had to be a dream (as all of life is) and of course it wasn't and anyway there was that little stumblebum standing right there before my eyes, the same guy i'd sadly left in maine and it was like i had blood in my arteries again and i'll never forget that moment for as long as this life of dreams keeps me asleep.
he'd hitchhiked here from god (me, you, us?) knows where and had my address and he thanked god (and me) that i'd told issifu about him and our adventures because he showed up with his pitiful rucksack and timidly knocked on the door expecting to see me (white (and pure) as a lily, male, sweet beard, 6'2", 150) and instead saw issifu (black (dark as night), bald as the 8-ball, male, 5'8", 180 (all muscle)), but issifu welcomed him and all turned out well for old rex whom i still couldn't believe was standing in my apartment and he was dirty and there was that voice of his again and and and and
but after initial exaltations, the sadness set in. because rex was footloose and free-wheeling and i was a subservient slave and it was like now i was the one trying to sneak the deodorant. or so i reasoned it...
he'd been working on that boat in maine all summer and autumn and was filling me up with his tales of heroism on the stormy seas (as he always does when he thinks i'm listening) but he was now in one of those desolation voids where the nebulous future needed to start taking shape and he was full of ideas (as always) but needing to transfigure the ideas into a chosen reality (which is the dream world in which you now sleep (and in which death is the only certainty)). but he had some time and i was glad he'd decided to spend it with me and we bet a large pizza as to whether pluto was a planet and i said it was and he said it wasn't (rex is a conspiracy theorist) and we looked it up on the internet and plain as day pluto is a planet and i enjoyed the pizza (and shared it with rex) (he is sore about my victory to this day).
a month or so later old rex found work in the mountains building trails and he left with that rucksack on his back and there i was, a goldblessed school boy, and there he was heading off to the mountains and i had envy in my heart and we bid each other farewells and he left and i stayed (though i knew i should be leaving to anywhere else but where i was) and that was that was that.
so school went on and i darkened circles with number 2 pencils and i never knew if i were failing or passing or acing and i worked hard at school but really toiled away at writing my first book which is entitled iNseArcHoFwhaTevErmAycOmE and you should look for that book at your local bookstore if you care to look for something that won't be there (but when it is there, (which it never will be) you can rest assured there will be a picture of me on the back cover in a well-composed pensive pose resting my bearded chin on my fist and on the wrist of that fist there will be a fancy watch -or- on the finger of that fist there will be a nifty ring). and one day i will be a best-selling author and i will be rich and famous and buy big houses and fill them with things i don't need and then buy bigger houses and fill them up too and i will cry for oprah and all the teenage girls will be wild for me (because i will also star in movies and have a rock band).
i was a weekend warrior those days and i battled hard. one friday evening i was walking in the mountains and found a nice lake and made a home for the night and i turned on my headlamp and opened my journal and got out a pen and started catching up with my entries ("was too busy" "things were so hectic" "too much going on", you know, the usual excuses of neglecting to do something). but here's what happened. i realized i was writing almost the exact same words for each day...or...even worse, sometimes i couldn't even remember anything specific about a certain day (my pen sadly dangling above a blank sheet of paper awaiting instructions i just couldn't provide...). and this scared me. instantly i had no appetite. i turned off my headlamp and laid on my back and stared through the mesh of the tent at the stars and felt the shaking winds and i just blinked. that's all i did was blink. sometimes slowly too.
some hours later i woke up to the winds which had really picked up and i watched the tent poles bend and said a little prayer (to you) that they wouldn't break. i also needed to recycle my tea. so i got out of my asylum and went into that chinook and took a couple of cold steps and began my stream...
...and then immediately dammed it (and everything else too) as i swung around and watched my tent get lifted by the wind (useless tent poles being plucked from the ground like too late harvested carrots) and go tumbling down the hill (also managed to pee on my leg). oh, how i cursed everything (yes, i'm sorry, even you and the handles on your cabinets) and all this suffering and i hated it all at that moment as my tent just kept plummeting (and the sting in my urethra to boot) and i ran after it and recovered everything and got back inside all wild-eyed and panting like an animal and heart racing and i realized my life needed changing and i needed to change it and that i could either put this off or get on with it and i (eventually) got on with it. what else was there to do?
and so, i put my school days behind me.
which brought me to yet another desolation void. another ball of restless anxiety in my stomach. full of ideas (never lacking) and living in a basement prison cell (that i loved and miss) and surviving on 40 boxes of cereal that i bought in one fell swoop (they were deeply discounted, and that cashier looked at me like i was mad and my roommates looked at me like i was madder but really, and i mean this, i am the only sane person in this world and that's the truth. i am the only one who makes sense). (i built a fort with the boxes in my room (walls of raisin bran (generic) and double doors of shredded wheat (also generic))). i was also lighting many candles during this void of desolation. now that i am remembering this all, i also began an intense scheme of running and swimming (indoor pool, they made me tuck my hair in one of those rubber caps but the beard hung free). for me, running and swimming beat poetry (though i was making attempts).
so i called the wasatch-uinta national forest (wyoming-utah border) and after transcending the dubiety of how i was looking for something that did not pay ("just a roof, please") they asked me to drive out there to meet and sort it all out and i did. we sat down and again transcended the dubiety and i told them how i was just looking for something to do with my winter because come spring, i had plans. so we all shook hands and i told them i was heading home for christmas (a holiday dear to my heart) but i'd be back in january to start walking and snowhoeing all the while mapping their trails. a winter in (mainly) wyoming. what could be better (or colder)? and, of course, what else was there to do?
off to tennessee for christmas.
then back to utah. good god, child.
and it was january and i unloaded my basement prison cell and loaded up my precious buick (which a year later i gave to old rex despanol and a year later he gave it back to me and then i donated it to charity (i'm such a good person)) and i turned the key to an awful grinding noise (easy now girl, easy...) and reached under the seat to my faithful dipstick oil heater and gently inserted it and strung an extension chord over the porch and under a tree up to the house and (ok, im)patiently waited ten minutes and turned that key again to a purring happy little engine and patted the dashboard and waved goodbye to my incredulous roommates and told them i'd come back to watch the superbowl (and i did) and then i was off to mountain view, wyoming and it was there where i found a little kitty (or did the kitty find me?) that taught me about god and how to meditate and i miss those days as i know i will miss this very day that i am pecking at these keys (none of it appreciated in the here and now) and come spring i got back in that buick (kitty in passenger seat) and drove all across this lonesome country to minnesota, left my cat in the kind hands of my aunt and uncle, drove back to memphis and a week later my mom and i flew out to san diego and did the things that tourists do and celebrated easter and drove down to that gawdawful border between mexico and the united states of america and god bless my mom for it and there we were in the blazing desert sun next to a little concrete post that said "canada - 2,653 miles" and what do you say at a moment like this and it was a sad moment (my life being full of them) and i watched her drive off and kept waving until i was certain that her rearview mirror no longer reflected me and then there i was and i said a little teary-eyed prayer and i started walking north and four months later i was in canada.
what else was there to do?