Friday, August 15, 2008

Land Of Enchantment

Well good morning from Tucumcari, New Mexico!

Quite the day I had yesterday!

--interesting. For a minute there I couldn't remember where I spent last night. I know, not the first time, but usually the circumstances are different. But indeed, it was in Oklahoma. I was smiling to myself wondering how many other people in Oklahoma were tuning in to Project Runway. Anyway--

I left Tulsa yesterday morning and decided to try my hand at following Route 66 rather than I-40. This worked well for about an hour, and as the speed limit on 66 is 65 m.p.h., I made pretty good time. But 66 goes through little towns rather than around them. This made it interesting. I took bunches of pictures of Chandler, I think it was. And that perhaps was my downfall. I came into Chandler on Route 66 but when I came out of Chandler, after driving for about twenty minutes I realized that I was going South, not West. And that I hadn't seen a highway marker. It seemed to me the easiest thing to do would be to make a right so I was going West again.

And so I did.

Onto something called, if I recall, 990 Road.

What started out as a substantial looking road paved with cement slabs became less and less substantial with every mile. Soon, I was on a dirt road, going up hill and downhill. The clay on the roadbed was a beautiful shade of red. Now and then there would be a little farm house, but there definitely seemed to be a lot more cattle than people in this part of Oklahoma.

I consulted Google Maps on my Blackberry. (Mr. Pibbs plus Red Vines equals Mad Delicious!) Well actually, no I didn't. I had no signal, no wireless, no nothing. I was on my own.

Now Oklahoma isn't that complicated. It's basically two main roads bisecting the state, one north-south and one east-west. Go in one direction long enough and you'll hit something. So that's what I did. And sure enough, in no time at all (three hours), I was back on I-40. Since Route 66 runs alongside I-40, I could keep an eye on it without having to find my way through wee little towns every fifteen minutes.

My sister used to have a handy saying: Let's not and say we did!

It comes in handy.

On I-40, Oklahoma went by pretty quick. Soon enough, I was crossing the border into Texas. The welcoming sign that let me know this also pointed out, "We're proud of our President, George W. Bush."

I flashed back to going to Inferno in 2005. I refused to stop for gas in Ohio, running on fumes to the Indiana border. It was there fault that we had four more awful years of that idiot so I was intent on boycotting Ohio. Unfortunately, I didn't fill up before leaving Oklahoma--O that I had since they're only paying $3.37 a gallon there--and I couldn't boycott Texas.

Took me forever to get to Amarillo. And Amarillo was my goal, because that's where the Starbucks is. I was thinking lunch in Amarillo, but I hadn't had breakfast so hunger got the better of me. I decided to stop at the much advertised Cherokee Trading Post Restaurant, having been prompted to do so by countless billboards littering the highway. (I thought Lady Bird Johnson took care of that when she was first lady. Did Texas get some kind of a reprieve? Or is it just that they don't care? Assholes.)

The Cherokee Restaurant was a huge mistake.

Worst. Lunch. Ever.

And the worst roadfood I encountered on this trip.

I sat at the counter for about fifteen minutes before one of the waitresses saw an opportunity for a tip and took my order. And the place was dead mind you. It might have been confusing for them because none of them had bothered to bus any of the people who had left, so I was sitting at the counter surrounded by dirty dishes.

I ordered a Rueben. That's always safe. It's difficult to screw up a Rueben.

But at the Cherokee Trading Post Restaurant, they seemed to have found a way.

As we all know, a Rueben is corned beef, saur kraut, and russian dressing on rye, grilled, with mustard served on the side. That "we" does not include the staff of the Cherokee Trading Post Restaurant, who only got the corned beef, saur kraut, and the grilling part. My sandwich was slathered with mayonnaise and topped with american cheese. The really awful kind of american cheese. For sustenance, since after having to sit in a restaurant for forty minutes before I got food put in front of me, I was fucking starving, I had to extricate the corned beef from the sandwich and just eat that.

At the cash register, I was posed the question, "So how was everything today?"

When I said, "It was pretty awful," the reply came, "Well that's nice! You come back and see us again, y'hear?" and one of those sweet southern smiles. That brief interaction summed up everything I hate about the South.

"That's pretty unlikely," I said, and headed out the door.

Headed for Amarillo, and Starbucks.

On the road to Amarillo, I ran into some weather. As in pouring rain and hale.

When it broke, I was on the phone with Naphtali (you all got the memo that the Baron will henceforth be known as Naphtali, right?), and he was encouraging me in the strongest possible terms to take it easy for the next two years after all I've been through in the previous five and just concentrate on going to school. When he asked what was behind all of the Aaaahhh's and Omigod's on my end and I told him about the biblical weather I was driving through, Naphtali said that was God sending out a big What He Said so I should pay attention.

I informed both Naphtali and my Creator that this is indeed the plan.

In my musings way back when about After, one of the thoughts that occurred to me was to find a nice monastery somewhere and retire from the world and just be quiet for a while. Although this is not quite that, I'm using it for much the same purposes. I have earned at least two years of kick-back time.

The storm let up some, and I got back on the road again. The landscape had become much drier, wildflowers giving way to sage brush and such. And of course, the desert after the rain is one of the most beautiful things I've ever seen, those beautiful colors all coming to life.

In due time, I reached the outskirts of Amarillo, although I'm not convinced that Amarillo is anything but outskirts, since I didn't see a mass of tall buildings anywhere and it's pretty flat in those parts. And pretty easily, I found the Starbucks.

I got my venti iced quad no-ice latté and a Vivano and settled into one of the available comfy chairs. I thought about sitting out on their porch, but decided against it since the view offered was a Big Lots parking lot and a I-40. I looked up just in time to suddenly see all the porch furniture--tables, chairs, umbrella stands--suddenly swept to one side of the fenced in porch by a strong and sudden gust of wind.

I mean, it was like they were all just brushed aside by a giant invisible hand.

Huh. I'm in tornado alley here, right?

Just how memorable will this stop at the Starbucks be?

I saw in my mind's eye the Hollywood version of my journey westward, and how we'd all be stuck in that Starbucks in the middle of the Big Lots parking lot during the Mother Of All Tornados or something. There would be shattered glass as we all cowered behind the counter. Someone would almost get sucked out but we'd manage to drag them back in. We'd have to tie the green Starbucks aprons together to form a tether so we could rescue a child clinging for life to a utility pole out in the Big Lots parking lot.

And I have to say it came close, but not quite.

When the wind and rain abated for the second time that day, I headed deeper into Amarillo in search of dinner. And whaddya know? I found a nice little thai restaurant! Chicken pad thai is one of my don't-have-to-think-about-it foods: even when it's bad, it's not that bad, and the difference between bad pad thai and good pad thai is pretty negligible.

After dinner, I found my way back to I-40, which was a lot more complicated than it seemed it needed to be, and got back on the road with one goal in mind: get the hell out of Texas never to return.

And seventy miles later, I crossed the border into New Mexico, the land of enchantment.

I love New Mexico. It is, of course, the new home of my Ex of the awful seven-and-a-half years, and I'm not supposed to be here. But if you are able to visit and spend some time there, I encourage you to do so. It's beautiful and the people are great. Don't miss Acoma and Cañon de Chelly.

What if I run into my Ex? What would I say to him?

I thought about that on my drive into Tucumcari.

Isn't it interesting how the mind only seems to record injuries and insults in the memory? Remember that perfect day you had last October when the weather was beautiful and everything went great and you got a lot done and everybody you dealt with was pleasant and thoughtful? Of course you don't. It's gone. We never remember that. Memory is like an old Techni-Color movie, where the blues and greens--all the sweetness and tenderness and kindness--fade to gray, but the oranges and reds--the hurt and pain and misery--remain vivid. Probably the result of evolution, since remembering the sources of pain for future reference is a good way to stay alive.

And so it is with my relationship with my Ex. It was bad, but it couldn't have been that bad. There must have been times with him when it was just perfect and beautiful and I felt loved and cherished.

But they're all gone.

No doubt, he has much the same story to tell about me, although from a slightly different perspective. His narrative would be about betrayal and deception and cruelty. The me that lives in my memory would no doubt be unrecognizable to me. Just as the him that I carry around with me is a distorted version of the genuine article.

(Although let's remember: he's the one that dug up the cremains of my cat and sent them to me scattered in with a bunch of old clothes and papers in a garbage bag. Who does that??)

Well, enough.

Onward through New Mexico.

I was planning on spending tonight in Albuquerque, but I'm thinking I might press on to Arizona. It's Friday, and my reservation in Palm Springs at the guest house where I'll be staying doesn't start until Sunday. So it seems I have a day to kill.

Where will the road take me? I'm interested to find out.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

California should be good for you. You need to relax for a couple of years.