The tripping, driving, moving, long haul aspect of our adventure has come to an end. Every day a new place, every night a new temperature, every height a new name. We came across the desert in a white vehicle from the scrub of Los Angeles to the heights of Flagstaff.
There the sky is still mostly as bright as it used to be. Orion showed face, but not bow, not arms, not legs. Still, we were impressed with the change. A blast of cold mountain air we did not expect left us digging around that precious bass for jackets we did not leave out.
Prophetic words came unshelled from back in California.
We do not have winter clothes. What are we going to do?
In the mountains of autumn and Arkansas, this became even more real. A festival celebrating nothing, too early for this earthen ship to ride it out. The rain came to sweep it all away and let us know that we, for the most part, were wrong. But the precious bass in the back stayed tucked away and dry while the artists on stage got their more used, more loved versions soaking wet. A mandolinist could hardly keep it together. Who could blame them in that case?
We left in the bright dry morning after two nights of an hour, maybe two of sleeping huddled somewhere from all that wet mud. Drenched blankets in a plastic bag, one dry blanket in the back of a van. We had shoes on but they were swamps so we burnt them by the fire, instead. Now the laces are too short and my white hoodie’s brown. I guess that’s better as a symbol for the land.
We drove off with our white vehicle covered in small deaths, over and over, crushed and attracting the flies. Down the mountain, there was a city we tried to stay in – scared away by a problem we know we can’t face. In Lebanon, but nowhere near the Beirut, we tried again and failed worse than before.
“I can move you to a new room,” the line went at one in the morning.
We understand you must be tired, but we’ll take the loss and drive on through.
Night passing line a semi on a two-lane highway. Half scared and half impaired. Neither of us could keep the lines from blurring. You stopped in a gas station to sleep some but I couldn’t sit still. So, we moved on.
There was a cafe and some coffee. We ate breakfast, but did either of us taste it?
We warned our server to look for bugs in hotels, every time.
Never put your things on the bed or the floor. The eggs might come out with you, and then they’ll stay. You have to look for their shit and their skins. There’s this funny smell in the air. It’s sour, kind of bitter. If you smell it, you should run.
On to the place where our things will find rest. The precious bass slid out of that snug little spot it traveled the land in. No breaks. Out of tune and under-used, but like those bassists in the rain – I’ll learn to play that way. One day.
The rest of the place is a winter-work. We have our jobs cut out for us in little individual packets. There is this overwhelming sense when we look at all this autumn land – these city kids will never survive.
We might have been taught wrong in the past, but we’re going to stand or starve.
Through the wires and the lines, we’ve already found a place that might take us in, teach us, show us, make Earthens of us.
If nothing else, the wasps and the deer will.
And all the while, crows watching, staring, standing guard.