In the summer of 1993, I felt like a minority for the first time. At that point, I’d been a minority for all of my life, “the only brown around”, but it didn’t occur to me that people thought or acted any different based on that. To me, racism was something confined to history books, South Africa, and a few counties in Alabama; crossing the river into North Platte, Nebraska, I suddenly realized that the haven of blue-state America had evaporated about 1200 miles before when I left California. Cops hassled and followed us. People stopped everything they were doing and stared. A motel tried to refuse a room that had already been booked.
That was my first road trip, from San Francisco to Baltimore and I was hooked. I had found something so utterly alien from anything I had experienced in the 17 years prior – it was obvious: “there must be some really crazy shit out there”.
It was my first time seeing the Rockies and the Salt Flats of Utah. We crossed the Mississippi just as the Great Flood of 1993 was getting underway. I saw drops of rain so large and so driven that when they pelted the road, they exploded in what looked like a million enormous glass butterflies.
And that was just 4 days.
On the eve of another road trip, it’s hard not to think about those previous journeys across America, Canada and South America, the roads and the towns, the people I’ve met, the things I’ve learned. But before this trip, more than ever, I’m looking forward more than back. Maybe it’s because I just broke up with my girlfriend. Maybe it’s where I am in life, directionless and stagnant, without purpose. My best friend said to me a few weeks ago while we were looking through pictures: “Where’s the fire? Where did that guy go?”
It’s wrong to blame my relationship; the flame had been extinguished before that. Now all that remains is a barely breathing pilot light. Fuck! that sounds bathetic. But right now, that’s what’s inside.
Going on a road trip looking for anything in particular, unless it’s made of concrete, metal or stone, is a bad idea. You’re guaranteed to miss out on things that are right before your eyes when you’re always looking over the horizon. But this time I am looking for something – my bearings. I can’t think of anyone better than the Spammer to search with, someone who is dedicated to self-awareness, self-improvement and the careful examination of one’s self that goes with it.
The road trip is tinder. Here’s to the fire.