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Wheels Rumbling On: Notes From The Road

The following was written on January 21st, 2015, when I still intended to make a second issue of my perzine Semi Sonya.

I just got back from a long road-trip with my boyfriend Alex. It wasn’t the longest road-trip that anyone has ever taken, obviously, but for me it was really long. January 4th to January 19th, from the San Francisco Bay Area to Seattle and then back again. By the 15th I was like, “GOD, I’m so tired, I wanna go home, let’s get out of here!”

Traveling can be exhausting. But the trip was also brave and interesting and I loved spending that much time with Alex. I’m glad that we went.

Great Oregon Outback
Photo by Sally.

Last night was the first time I’ve slept alone for more than two weeks, and while it’s nice to thrash and drool without worrying about the other sleeper, I missed my warm cuddly man. I texted him good night but it wasn’t the same, you know?

Anyway, here are two of my first journal entries from the road, lightly edited for readability:

1/6/2015, early evening

I haven’t been journaling as much as I wanted to, as much as I thought I would. Road-tripping is busy busy busy, driving around and seeing people, like Adi [one of my close friends] and Alex’s family. I am tired. Plus it all seems somewhat mundane. Occasionally I notice a moment and think, “I can describe this like a scene in a novel,” but mostly life just feels… normal. Ain’t that always how it goes?

1/7/2015, 10:30am

Currently waiting for Alex’s friend to pick us up and take us out for a pizza lunch in Keizer, the town where Alex grew up. It’s a suburb of Salem, where his parents live now. Their house is walking distance from the Oregon State Hospital, where One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest was filmed.

I watched that movie in my high-school psych class, after we learned about the guy who invented/modernized the prefrontal lobotomy (ice picks in through the eyes, basically). In the movie they break into Jack Nicholson’s skull and saw off part of it, which always bothered me because there’s no way that the doctors actually would have chosen the more laborious and dangerous version of the procedure.

I said “where” a lot in that previous paragraph and I think it indicates that this sprawling trip has me thinking about space, about geography. The placement of people, memories, and experiences. The process of searching, of finding, and hopefully of stumbling onto what you didn’t know you’d find. What you wouldn’t have guessed was on your path!

Alex mentioned that there are parallels between our journey and the archetypal hero’s quest. What goes against the trope is our lack of a specific goal, and the fact that we’re a duo with no protagonist/sidekick hierarchy. Of course, we’re each the main character in our own minds, but we’re determined to hold hands and walk side-by-side, or at least to switch off leading when we’re marching single-file.

I’m disturbed to find myself using military language, disturbed to notice the less romantic parallel to colonial Europe’s “discovery” of America. I don’t want to be a traveler who arrives at each destination full of ideas and even requirements, but to a certain extent it’s inevitable. I was about to say, “At least the Pacific Northwest is a lot like home,” but maybe I just don’t seek the experiences that would be novel and edifying.

Hence the importance of stumbling along the way. I am a romantic again, wanting to trip and be caught by strangers who will show me how to tread securely on local land.

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