Big Bend- The Drive

Despite an ambitious plan to leave at five am, we stumbled out of my Aunt’s house in Boerne around eight am.  The drive to Big Bend is a seven hour drive west into the desolate confines of the Chihuahua Desert.  The park runs across the U.S.-Mexican border for over one hundred miles.  Soaring peaks abruptly jut from a lonesome bed of dirt, cactus, and scrubby grass.

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Stunning

Driving through this vast expanse of nothingness made the world seem so big.  One stoplight towns, abandoned taquerias, and the rubble of once elegant Spanish style brick homes reminded me that some, just hundreds of miles away, endure in a very different reality.

Little things on a road trip stand out.  I pressed scan on the radio dial and the numbers kept moving until they stopped on the only station in range, an abhorrent frequency wave of battered country troubadours who nearly drove us all to insanity.  We settled for my little brother’s iPhone spitting out Bob Dylan tracks in soft whispers because my Mom’s 200,000 mile warrior of a Sequoia did not have the right inputs.

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Road trip!

I saw nothing but open road, desert, and a couple of sleeping brothers.  This was the solitude I needed after surviving the cacophony of a middle school science room for months.  We all tried on my Mom’s sunglasses and we looked equally asinine.  A road trip with just the brothers is as close to childhood as I can get.

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Look at those clouds

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Up in Smoke

The glass was caked white like dried snow.  The inside smelled of something pleasant gone and faded.  The box of baby clothes on which it sat trembled under the modest weight.

The space was theirs.  Theirs to utter idealistic nonsense that still felt like magic.  Theirs to fart and spew visions of grandeur in the same breath.  Free to bask in the warm, unfiltered light of an unsecured bulb.  At least until supper-time was called and they dutifully ate their peas and were told not to lean back in their chairs.

Where did it go?  On through the chimney in search of two more boys to enchant?

He grabbed a box for the moving van.

Mom and Dad were up playing cards by the light of a flimsy lamp.  So enthralled by their game, they did not notice his arrival.

Not until the glass flew.  A shatter.  A shutter.  A grin on a rigid corpse.  Ashes.  Up in smoke.

Blue Sky, Hard Road

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Since I learned to drive,

I loved to watch the land fly by,

Learned to drive from Dad,

Jerking forward, halting abruptly,

Someday I would drive,

Drive as far as wheels could fly.

 

 

The vast Pacific,

The vast moment,

Beautiful, elusive horizon,

Destiny before my eyes.

 

 

Leaving quiet desperation,

A secure path,

An unexamined life.

 

 

I casually waved,

Like I was nothing,

 

 

I cried,

Cried at years wasted,

Years wasted on a life not my own,

Tears over road-weary words,

Words of demons, nightmares,

Words of chasing dreams,

And the life I chose.

 

 

Sunlight gleamed off the windshield,

Blue sky, hard road

Blue sky, hard road.

 

 

Crumbling Hartford,

What will winter be like?

Factories gone,

Dusty buildings, soot and blight.

 

 

Friends, family a phone call away,

No Sunday Cowboys games,

No comfort, no familiarity remains.

 

 

Hartford,

Just as cold,

Just as dreary,

In bed, aching lonely.

 

 

So I climbed a mountain,

Wrote until my voice was bold,

Walked until my feet grew cold,

Drove until my story told

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