Tuesday, May 17, 2011
Miraculously for our little troupe, we managed to leave from Mojave by 8:15am. The impetus? Having to drive uphill in the chugger through the hottest spot in the country. We needed an early start.
Across the border in Arizona, we stopped for gas. It was 9:30am, 94 degrees and climbing. The bathroom at the travel stop had three framed paintings – all of ocean scenes. Two beaches with swaying palms and sailboats, one of waves crashing on cliffs. Outside, truckers squeegied their windshields, the backs of their necks as red as the dirt surrounding us. A couple small, white clouds held perfectly still in a blue sky, as if they too were just too hot to move.
This desert was once the ancient sea bed. The bathroom paintings perhaps a nostalgia for glory days gone by, like the armchair nationalists I encountered in Hungary with maps of the old empire on the wall. Something missing that they've lost ownership of. Something that once held a key to their identity, no longer visible to others without props, without protest. I used to be single and childless and could sleep in. I used to speak Russian with ease. I used to teach at a university. I used to live in Monterey. Who will care about these things now?
The past always looks more attractive when you're peering over your shoulder. Be careful not to miss what you have; the road goes on, and on.