Man must have enough faith in himself to have adventures, and enough doubt in himself to enjoy them.
G. K. Chesterton ~ Heretics
Durango to Kayenta
Durango High School’s graduation ceremony took place at Fort Lewis College. My dad borrowed a camera to take a picture of me in my cap and gown with my diploma. It’s the only photo I have of my high school graduation. There was no celebration – the next day I was leaving Durango, Colorado for Fresno, California with the Patriarch, his wife the Matriarch, and a young woman named Jewel.
Note to self: Why were you so stubborn, so clueless to go off like that? Don’t ever do that again.
Kayenta to Flagstaff
My family had done a few road trips to California when I was young to visit relatives. The last time we made the trip I was in junior high, and my dad had a brain tumor that he was going to have removed at a hospital in Los Angeles. The family also had a tumor – a seventeen year-old foster girl. Foster Girl was a lot more difficult to remove. Mom told me I did not like Foster Girl because I was jealous of her and resentful that she usurped my position as Eldest Child. I was young enough to accept my mom’s story as true, thus I did not like Foster Girl. I also did not like my dad’s tumor. I knew it was serious; I knew he could die, and I was damned if he was going to die liking Foster Girl more than me. Her presence in the hospital room was so painful, I did the only logical thing – I escaped. I ran off and stumbled into my own VAST AND PERILOUS ESTATE! METACOGNITION!
Note to self: Metacognition is a gift. Show your appreciation for it by changing your mind once in a while.
Flagstaff to Kingman
Of course, I did not know that word at the time or what it meant – thinking about one’s thinking – and did not understand what was happening to me. The only way I could describe it is that I was here, yet I wasn’t here because I was watching myself being and not being here. Metacognition! My parents did not know what was going on with me because I could not explain it. I reached the logical conclusion that I was going insane. I remember thinking, “So this is what it’s like to be crazy. Interesting.”
Note to self: Curiosity housed in a restless spirit can drive a person to Fresno.
Kingman to Mojave
Dad was a traveling salesman for a company that sold machine parts and tools to vehicle repair shops. His territory included the Four Corners area of Colorado. The summer I was sixteen, he sprained his ankle and could not drive, so he volunteered me to take him to his sales calls. Although I groused about it at first, it turned out to be the best week of my summer.
Every morning after breakfast, we would hit the road and head to one of the repair shops he serviced. While he chatted up his customers, I sat in the boss’ office and read a book. The smell of oil and diesel fuel, the whine of pneumatic drills, and the low rumble of masculine laughter wafted into my subconscious like second-hand smoke. The very air breathed testosterone; and wherever we went, it seemed like there was always a guy named Earl. Later my dad told me that some of the men busted his chops about being chauffeured around by a teenage girl. We got a chuckle out of that.
Between Durango and Cortez the speed limit was seventy miles per hour, but Dad let me take it up to eighty. There I was flying down the highway, enjoying the fast-changing scenery, and my dad never said a word. It wasn’t that he wasn’t scared speechless—he was just thinking.
Note to self: Dad may have been scared spitless or even shitless, but not speechless.
Mojave to Bakersfield
The thing is my dad needed to think. Like the father in History of the Rain by Niall Williams, there was a “non-stop buzzing in his brain. Whatever part of his mind saw things in the everyday not-really-beauty that was around…that part had clicked On and gotten stuck.” The drive to work gave Dad an excuse to listen to the universe.
The week I traveled with my dad, I got a glimpse into his outer and his inner world. Years later when I made my own commute to work, I followed my dad’s example and spent the time thinking. That’s what I did on my way from Durango to Fresno; I stared out the window and thought my thoughts.
Note to self: Palm Trees!
Bakersfield to Fresno
We arrived in Fresno at night. All I remember is light coming out of the front door, women’s voices guiding me upstairs to the women’s dorm, and the hardness of the floor under my sleeping bag. Soon I was asleep in Fresno. Tomorrow I would start my adventures.