Saturday, September 18, 2004

Friday, September 17, 2004

It really is a small place. A shack, really. The ceiling is low, and the floor is kind of warped. I had not noticed it before. Probably because I usually enter purposefully. Even automatically. Going to rent a movie is a routine, which you do without having all your senses turned on.

But not tonight.

It is getting darker more rapidly now. When I got there, it was already pitch black. It is raining non-stop now, but the air is still heavy and warm. Walking in it is being in the Night's embrace, feeling its warm breath on your cheeks as it holds you tight. As I walked in, the fluorescent lights dispelled some of that feeling. There were about a dozen people looking for their escapes on the outside of little plastic boxes.

It was strangelly quiet. It almost felt as if I had walked into the middle of a sensitive conversation. And then I saw the reason. On small, beat-up TVs in the corners of a shop, a man began to speak. I knew that voice. And I had heard it say those words before. I felt a wave of déjà vu wash over me. And I realized what I had been feeling. It was restlessness.

A long time ago, many many years before I started to consider moving here, I travelled all over this country. I had seen a large part of Europe, which was great, but those trips lacked the 'frontier' feeling of travelling in America. Twenty years ago, it felt thrilling to move through places where inhibitions were low. Opportunities seemed boundless. Where freedom reigned. Places where you felt you should be on your toes. Where people carried guns. And staked claims. And drank bourbon. In bars. I was also desperate for something new. Something bigger. Something bigger. America.

So I travelled. Coast to coast. After five trips and six years I had seen some things and gone some places. I had been to roughly 15 states in the Union. Never saw a gun on somebody's person, though. Well, except for all those guns hanging from police officers. I talked to people that were in a mindset completely alien to me. I saw a whole different way in which people can live. I sat on their chairs. Ate their food. Listened to their music. Which brings me back to that voice.

I can't for the life of me remeber wher I listened to those words. I know it was just this one time, and I know it was when I was alone. Roaming. On the radio in a rental car. The TV in a hotel room. Somewhere. But the same thing had happened then as now. This man, standing on a stage, talking more to himself than his audience, was thinking back to when he wrote the song he was about to sing. He had been 24, he said. And each time he sings the song, he is surprised at how clearly he had managed then to frame, in a song, the questions he has been trying to answer ever since. This got to me then. And it got to me tonight. Standing among these people in the dingy little video shop.

You see, my eyes saw a lot of stuff when I was getting to know this country. My fascination with it dissipated. you may say predictably. I would say that I believed that I had calmed down. Quenched the thirst.

But I would be wrong.

It wasn't the need to see this country. It wasn't that I had specific places I needed to go to. I needed to wander. To fly. To move. I have a restless streak. And that has not changed.

As I walked back out into the Night, I saw a beat-up, old motorcycle parked in front of the gas station next door. It had out-of-state plates, stuffed saddlebags, and two helmets clipped to the side of it. I felt this piercing urge to mount it and drive off.

After a minute or so, a small, fat guy came walking out of the gas station, sat on the bike and started to put on one of the helmets. I snapped out of it. I had somewhere to be. I felt my restlessness fall back to its place in my soul. My life was patiently waiting for me to come back. Which I always do. Not just because I do not fail. Or let down. But because that is who I am.

Still, as I drove away, I could still hear Springsteen's voice in my head:
"I'll love you with all the madness in my soul
Someday girl I don't know when,
we're gonna get to that place.
Where we really want to go,
and we'll walk in the sun.
But till then tramps like us,
baby we were born to run."
One down – two to go. Seventy-five pages cast in stone. So to speak.

I am working on final reports for three of the projects I was working on during my trip the other day. Just finished one of them and have sent it out for proofing.

It's a good feeling, when you will yourself to finish a project, with no regard for the time of day. Testing your mettle. Besides, with my wife working like crazy, I have had no choice but to work nights as well. But man, am I exhausted!

I shutter at the thought of getting up in three hours, working a full day, and of finishing two more of these by Monday.

Thursday, September 16, 2004


We had a welcome but all to seldom seen guest show up for dinner: My wife, the overworked.

To mark the occasion, we treated her to a feast of avocado soup with fresh cilantro and tuscan bread, and home-made Spaghetti Bolognese:


Wednesday, September 15, 2004

There are strange, bright-red, birds singing outside my window. Most probably on their way south.

Even though it is warm, I know that fall will be coming soon. I can feel Nature, heavy with her burgeoning fruits and unfolded flowers, slowing down her frenzied run through the summer. Pausing to catch her breath. Her pulse slowing. The fever subsiding.

Preparing for days of darkness and slumber.

Tuesday, September 14, 2004

I woke up this morning, thinking how fortunate I am. Which is intersting in itself, because my last thought as I was falling asleep last night was how miserable I felt during the weekend while trying, with little effect, to ease the suffering of my sick, little girl.

I used to have this little List of things I would check in my mind, when I felt really down. It has been quite a while, probably years, since I saw fit to do The List the last time, but there have been dark times in my past when I needed to do it daily, even many times a day. The List changes obviously, as life goes by, but currently goes something like this:
- I was born into as normal a family as any,
- in a peaceful country with few crimes and no wars,
- was brought up in a sane and non-abusive manner,
- have never gone without food or love for any length of time,
- have found my partner for life,
- am blessed with true friends,
- am healthy and wish others well,
- have so far achieved the education that I have sought,
- am successful in the work that I have chosen to do,
- do not have too much money or things, but enough, and
- have been entrusted with the most precious little girl in the World.

Sometimes I can't check some of the things on The List. I may not have had any money. At all. Or seemed to be about to flunk out of school. Or something. But the big things have always been there. Family, friends, love.

I may not have had any special reason to do The List this morning. But it was good to remember it. One shouldn't just pray when things are bad.

Monday, September 13, 2004

Man, that was one tough weekend.

Not that I had any lack of respect for people with young kids, especially single parents. But holding your little girl in your arms for a weekend, while she sobs and cries from feeling just miserable, and not being able to do much about it, that just amplifies the awe I am in of those that have more than one toddler to take care of, let alone for those that are doing this by themselves.

This is probably the best job on Earth. But it's a tough one, too.