Thursday, September 23, 2010

If you wanted to find me, I'd be about here

I was gunning through the last of Nebraska and into Wyoming, determined not to stop until I reached the state famous for both its violently homophobic history and its gay cowboy movie. One of the three states I'd never been to in the lower 48, my personal challenge of "48 before 21" quest having resulted in a frustrating Incomplete 4 years earlier. 

I never stopped to eat but I did pull off at a neurotic amount of gas stations,  never letting the needle fall beneath a half tank. I harbored a somewhat rational fear of having the engine die on the interstate and being forced to sleep in my seat, bolt upright, waiting for someone to knock on my window, hand me a piece of farm machinery and instruct me to put it against my forehead.

The night before I left a friend stopped by to debate interstates and state routes, sleeping hours verses daily mileage, and in general the decision to leave at all. He knelt above the open atlas on the floor as I crammed another pair of shoes into a plastic bin. "It's all about the shoes," I said aloud, "Shoes and lipstick. Brand new me." He wasn't listening. He bent farther over the map and traced his finger in a circle around the upper left quadrant of the country. "Right around  here," he said, "this is where all the nutjobs live."

"You have a very colorful way of describing the country." I said, studying the big square states with a frown, suddenly envisioning all the terrible things the crazy people of Laramie, WY could do to me and my shoes. "Oh, trust me," He'd replied. "Total nutjobs."

I was tired, not loopy yet but still heavy in the eyelids, as I passed the 16 hour mark, 17 hours, 18 hours. I slammed right through my personal record. But as I slipped through invisible time zones I kept gaining hours in the night which made it harder for me to justify pulling off the highway. I really couldn't afford to stop. I had to be in Idaho the very next day, the earlier the better because Will was there, at the western edge of the state. Will, the person I had loved the hardest, who I missed the most in the world. I don't mean to say that the feelings were reciprocated. But I didn't give a shit. The hours we had to spend together in Idaho were ticking away as I drove and drove and drove and so I wouldn't stop.I had to get there.

Finally in Wyoming, way past midnight, I started looking for hotels. And there was nothing. Miles and miles melted away with no exits, no houses in the distance, just a weird reddish light hanging over the flat countryside with no apparent origin or explanation.The night took on the quality of something that might last long past its universally allotted hours. Patterns and thoughts and things I recognized started to loosen inside my head and blur around the edges.

Nineteen hours into the day, Cheyenne, WY. I found a hotel.

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