Tuesday, August 02, 2016
You know? It's funny but through the grinding pain, that dull, sick, green throb, tears came. The migraines are usually way out somewhere beyond emotion and certainly beyond any semblance of grief, but the tears came nonetheless. Then when I was wrung out completely sleep did follow, as it was bound too at some point whether you want to call it real sleep or just passing it out. It did come.
With the sleep came the dreams and they were all about maps and kinesthesia. There was movement and head turned out toward the passenger side mirror and fields and trees and roadsigns passing at 60 mph. There were no destinations but there were maps and long haul trucks, those white freightliners, the big rigs from country-western songs. There were bags of burgers and big cups of hot coffee and most of all there was movement, and there was maps. The maps were dotted in red with points and places other than right here and right now.
So many years ago now but many of those red dots are places I have certainly been but may never see again at this rate. They're all spread out now across the map and across time, and further apart when you hit the mountain states, but that's how it is out there. My most vivid memory of the Rockies isn't the size and the majesty but how many hours you could go at night without seeing lights coming from the other direction. It was only during those long, cold nights across the occasional spin on black ice that I've ever caught a glimpse of just how big this rock is. It seems really small when you're planted in one place, and especially a place like New York City where there is almost always someone walking directly above you or even below you. It's easy to lose perspective but then you get out there above Denver or Salt Lake City and you don't see anyone else for 8 hours or more.
I was poring over maps and I could hear the stiff paper folding and I was running my index finger along black and blue and red lines like tracing veins in my wrist. None of the cities and towns on the maps had names. They were all just dots, or dots with circles, or stars. They were just points on the map where all the veins converged, and if memory serves I was trying to trace lines around all these points, avoiding places where things might come back together. When the lines converge on a point they start to look suspiciously like a spider web. They look like places where a person might get stuck and not find his way out. I've spent a lot of time stuck here at a place where a lot of lines come together. Nobody I know anymore is happy here. Everyone talks about getting out. Everyone says it's not what they came here for, but was it ever? I keep asking myself that.
Was it ever what I thought it was when I came or was it just something I had built up in my head?
Or is the fantasy what we all think we would find someplace else?
Somewhere back in time I left New York and it was right after New Years. It was cold that winter and we took the northern route out along I70 and even where there wasn't snow the ground was frozen. I don't know why I remember this. Maybe it's because I spent so much time looking at my feet, but I know I had only one pair of shoes and they were Nike Cortez sneakers, white with a blue swoosh. They were relatively new and I liked them well enough but they weren't really what I needed for a long run out west. My feet were mostly frozen for days even with the heater in the cab of the truck. There were sharp stabs of pain punctuating a solid ache, not really so different than a migraine pain at the other end of the neural map. I had a Goodwill coat and some sweaters I got for Christmas. My forehead was damn near frozen to the passenger side window. It was my job to take care of the maps and navigate and light cigarettes. I did okay with the cigarettes but the navigation remained questionable even months later, after practice.
Blame it maybe on the Expressway outside my bedroom window but I dreamed of maps, and I dreamed of traffic and trucks and cars and rest stops and scenic overlooks. I dreamed of snowy fields and frozen streams and I dreamed of how strange and lonely it got out in the Rockies because by that point it was just me and I was still pointed west when everyone else had turned around. What was I going to do when headlights came in the other direction? Flag them down and stop and have a conversation? Please. I had dreamed of this shit. Be careful what you ask for, by the way. I'm just saying.
Dreams so vivid I can still see lines and feel the paper and hear the soft snap of the creases trying to fold it back to manageable. I can feel the buzz of the radials on the asphalt. I can smell the cigarette smoke and feel the jet of icy air coming through the cracked side window.