...And No Boogin' Picture Either
(added later: ok, here's some video of the road)
Pushing though a milestone at work and up past my bedtime making the final, riveting conclusion of Sometimes A Great Notion, I'm too charged up to drop off just yet, even though I likely need the Z's. This kind of clarity doesn't lend itself to sleep.
It's been a packed week. My life is eventful again after a long, slow period. The whipsaw action is a little disturbing on the meta-level -- can this kind of binge-purge lifestyle really be sustainable? -- but it's the only way I've ever known. My breed thrives on pressure, force, velocity, or more precisely change in velocity, which is to say acceleration in one form or another. Delta-v over t, Hocken would say; my AP Physics teacher from good old South Eugene High.
I ran up the coat as you'd read below, and then after an evening feeling more at home in Arcata than maybe ever before, somehow a benefit of being away, proceeded further up north and inland. The drive takes me through the Yurock territory (one of the only tribes to keep their original land all along the Klamath) and then deeper into un-trafficked National Forest land up the Salmon river, 17 miles on a one-lane road cut into the steep hillside to meet up with friends and swim and camp out a night on some derelict mining claim.
I've grown to love this kind of egress from civilization in a way that makes me miss my estranged father, even though I suspect the image of his Only Son splashing around bare-assed, drinking beer and shooting dice around the campfire with a bunch of tattooed outlaws like some kind of second-generation dirt-worshiping hippy would probably put him even further off. He maybe gets hung up on appearances though, and would really appreciate the spirit of the thing if he could perceive it, so I think about writing a fathers-day letter (and maybe I still will), but mostly I just drink up the earth and do my level-best to be Present. It's good. Much glory all around.
And on Sunday, after contemplating various schemes to stay out in the wild a bit longer, I succumb to responsibility and decide to shag it for San Fran that night, sticking to the east-bound one-lane up further into the hills -- real Red Dawn territory, cliffs and chasms -- and then down through Scotts Valley and over to the I-5, where my truck starts to overheating.
I'm not a car-man, but the fluid reservoir looks ok the couple times I stop to try and let the rig cool off, so I figure maybe it's just the hot humid Sacramento Valley air after too much mountain scrambling in second gear. But when sundown doesn't fix things and I'm limping long at 50mph getting passed by semis and the needle's still on the red-line, I decide I'm in over my head just in time to catch the last truck-stop exit before the Vacaville cuttoff, where the girl at the counter's got the number for a mechanic who might just come out at 10:30pm on a Sunday.
By midnight the professional eye has solved my problem. It turns out the truck is bone dry, a bad coincidence of air-bubbles had kept the only liquid in the system stuck deceivingly in the reservoir and it wasn't until the engine had cooled completely awaiting the expert opinion that it sucked the last of it up. I'm a little embarrassed to have this guy drive out and pop the hood and see an Obvious Problem staring us both in the face, but if there's one thing being a tech pro has taught me it's that there are demons which bedevil novices that just melt away in the presence of real knowledge.
I'm just happy it's an easy fix. Four or five gallons of water or so later Moamar is back in prime condition, and my man gladly takes $63 cash rather than the eighty five he quoted me on the phone since we seemed to get along allright and I didn't need an invoice or any paperwork. Seeing as how I just wrote the biggest check I've ever written in my life to the IRS this strikes me as deeply appropriate. God bless commerce. I'll be home before 2.
Back on the city scene I'm starting to feel the first itches of the poison oak I couldn't completely avoid, trying to barrel through the work-pinch and happy that my Partners put in some weekend time hassling all the cables in our office into order. Nothing like a little organization of the work-space to start things out on the right foot.
The day goes good and Monday night I make it home by 9ish, head down to my corner spot to get a pasta plate and the $1.40 microbrew. Just as they're closing down and I'm getting ready to quit eavesdropping on the drama of the cafe class, I spot an old campaign buddy Tim Jones headed out the door. I flag him down and we start to catching up, head across the street to this more swanky place that's got a beautiful gargantuan wooden table up by the bar and the windows -- sort of neat because all sorts end up sitting there and it sets a better kind of mood -- and shoot the shit for a couple of beers.
By and by a couple of Oregon girls I've know and treasured for more than a decade stop in, Molly and Anita on vacation, up from LA and down from PDX, coming from dinner in Marin with a tall buddy in a dashing white shirt, and we have a chatty little party talking art and madness until last call. It feels real nice to be in the mix with colleagues and beautiful women (Anita and I had a romance a few years back) and when I finally do make it home buzzed at 2:30 I can't even kick myself for staying up too late. This is the kind of life I want to live, and I'll be damned if I can't make my deadlines anyway even with a little headache the morning after. What the hell is college good for if it can't teach you that?
And so another 12-hour day down and most of the looming TODOs buttonholed, I'm left feeling mostly clear and cool. It feels a lot like a winding, treacherous one-lane mountain road in life lately. My problems come when I try and fight-off the responsibility, shirk the role. Usually it's unconscious, but I do it all the same, skittering around and trying to duck out of that self-made little leader-hat I love and fear so much. The most important thing is to stop struggling.
Tonight no friends or comrades or pretty girls, just the last chapters of a Great American Novel and a couple slices of the Mythic pizza. It's a little more lonely and a lot more introspective -- hence the blog-post, natch -- but mostly positive anyway. The one-lane road is a gorgeous challenge, and I've every reason to believe it leads to good places. And anyway, there ain't any room at this point to turn around and drive back, that's for damn sure.