I’m driving north alone to see an old friend. Stopping at a beach, I’ve forgotten to lock my car. Even while shirking obligations it’s hard to have your shit together.
I ponder these objects, observe their place in my mind, the bags and rags and bottles, our history with them. I’m here with these things, by the naked ocean.
My only scarf is a woolen white with stark navy stripes. As with any cherished object it’s an artifact of personal archaeology. Worn along the edges, perhaps from dragging across rough terrain. Bits of sand, burrs. Never washed. No stains or noticeable odor.
I often find myself in the company of cows, sloping around in the dark, looking for a place to be. Last night, in a field along the Lost Coast, I awoke to one outside my car window, a large black bull whinnying in distress. He must have stumbled through the fog and come across my car, frightened by the metal thing. Tight-chested, I crawled into the driver’s seat, left my spot while the stars were still out. I didn’t stop driving, drove through the ranches winding upward. I felt the sun sloping up the opposite hillside.
Sleeping along remote roads isn't reckless, but the dangers – robbers, animals, injury – are yours to contend with, not abstract. You’re aware of fear, any obligations to yourself.
I imagine the black bear from a bird’s-eye-view, roaming the forest where I'll sleep tonight. I imagine my parents, their attachment to me, and is it justified. I hold these images in one hand, and with the other I place myself here, on the pad I put in my car to sleep. They contradict each other, the fears and the place.
1/18/21 (before the road trip, in my notebook)
It’s winter but the buds are coming.
I sleep on the moss and when I wake I see them up close, coming through every trodden crevice, little green things in the dust
in that little canyon I won’t find again, not far but small, therefore far –
And the buds so small, coming in from far –
The red spider, frantic with hunger
as hunters are, searching the dust and everywhere, it can’t let a thing go by.
Remember the dark rooms? Shuffling the papers –
I feel, in myself, a hunter
2/13/21 (Gold Beach, OR)
Not just the beauty but the brutality of it:
the sea anemones barricading the rocks,
the starfish like roaming hands tearing at things in shells,
the seagulls prowling above (nothing will escape their sight),
the lone surfer at the edge, facing out
When I decided to leave home, I wanted the departure to be indefinite. My dad refused. I could have taken the car and gone, but a part of me wanted to see the reproach of my father, to see a glimpse in his eyes of what I would have to learn for myself.
Along the route, little knowing interactions with loners. A stone collector. An astrophysicist. You go in one direction and pass by someone going in the other.
Bigger contradictions as I enter the city. Sharp-edged buildings stand against the ocean – people dressed in violent colors – spires cutting clouds. Lightning retaliates.
More retaliations: disgusting alleyways, disgusting canals with grime and dark waters. Horrible creatures accumulating in the filth. Rotting metal structures.
(At the edges, roads turn to paths, which meet rivers and streams – driven toward them by a mysterious insistence. People talking and laughing in the dark woods. By day, a trailer shining in a clearing by a lake.)
There are tigers in my dreams. Last night there was one in my kitchen. It looked into my eyes and approached me.
It wasn’t rushed. There was no anger.
I backed away toward the window. I had no choice but to exit and climb the facade. The tiger wouldn’t go further, stuck its head out of the window. It observed me as I clung to the vines.
From a posting at the campsite: ‘If you come across a cougar, appear large, back away slowly, and DO NOT BREAK EYE CONTACT.’
Please, if this has any use, it’s to take the things of life and look at them unflinchingly, for those who would go that far