ONE OF THOSE DAYS
Day 114 Carlyle
to an unnamed patch of grass
today: 32 cumulative: 2,319
We wake to children running by the tent. It is hot in the tent, I did not sleep in my sleeping bag. Cosmo is laid out full length, she is as big as I am. And like everyday when we sleepout, there is no loitering in the morning, just stuff it in the bag and start walking. At the local Pit BBQ I take my eggs with some coffee. The place is empty. The first customer that comes in tells me that Breese is a whole lot friendlier than Carlyle. It rains for 2 minutes. I am in a hurry today, I walk out of Carlyle in search of another Breese. I did not give Carlyle a chance, but there are many miles to go, and it is going to rain today. I need to get in some miles before it does.
For the first hour out of town I am flying. High like a fist in the air, high like two fists in the air. High like the heavyweight champion of the world. The beats in my headphones make me walk fast and make me raise my fists in the air on this shoulderless highway. Shoulderless but not soulless, there is much soul here today, and 5 miles out of town there is a town called Huey. Population 200. The rain starts. Sit down under a tree. Smell of rain. There are no businesses, there is no one to talk to, but the post office is open across from the tree where we sit. I am told by the woman working inside that it is physically the smallest post office in Illinois. 10 feet by 10 feet. The town of Huey, she says, has a lot of insurance salesmen. And factory workers. Factories that make cloth napkins for airlines. I am the first person in 1 _ years to use a credit card in this office. I try to explain to her that I am a hobo and that I have no job, but that I have this piece of platinum colored plastic with a name and a number. My indentured servant card. I am a slave. And I will never be free until the bills stop coming to my mailbox. I am a gambler. I gamble with credit and speculate with the hopes of grand returns. So, penniless am I but this. This slave ID card. She finds the instruction manual and digs the hole a little deeper, $4 deeper. Rain has not stopped.
Walk in the rain. Whole fields of wild mustard. Yellow seas. Rains outside my coat and covered wagon, Cosmo is not bothered by the wetness, she is cool, and for that she is happy. Soon we will be walking nights because the summer is coming. Many small towns. A Highway Patrolman stops me to say I need to try to stay off the road. I look ahead and look back at him. There are no shoulders. OK, I say. He drives away and we continue to walk on the road. There is no place else to go. Later, after some big clouds and after many yellw seas, and after many thoughts of when. A place to stop and eat. Cat fish. I am spending too much money. I should not want so much. I want too much. Restaurants will not save me from the road. It is not a bad day. There have been moments. It is just one of those days. Looking for escape, looking for connection, not finding it. Looking for a person to be RED 25! Winner! And certainly many good people, but I want high drama, a story to make me laugh or cry. But not every day has that story.
Some days are just breathing and walking and mailing a package and eating a meal and hoping that the rain will eventually stop and having faith that the road will eventually take you to fireworks in your mind. Hoping Cosmo will not go lame, hoping that this last 4 miles into Salem will go quickly. Orange tint to the sky with some grand sailboat clouds that pass over a place where many 18 wheelers park. Another restaurat, I have not learned yet, it cannot save me, but I may find my RED 25! Winner! Maybe my bride to be. Does that mean that I am lonely?
People smile at the highway man. They do not see people like him very often. That is worth it. The smiles. The questions. The how do you do it. Check on Cosmo and fill up her water. Feed her some meat scraps from the kitchen. When I come back inside there is a $20 bill sitting on my table on top of my bill. I think a couple that had been listening to me talk left it for me on their way out. I didnt even get to talk to them. A totally selfless act. I smile. I was going to run out of money tomorrow. Now I will not. And the owner of the restaurant comes to sit and talk. He is from Macedonia, he owns this place with his 4 brothers, I have been to their hometown of Skopie, he wants give me a free meal, anything on the menu.
Another man named Doug says "All be durn." every time I tell him something interesting. Doug couldnt imagine a trip like this he says. Why dont you carry a gun? What if, and arent you worried about x and y. But, Doug, there is no safe. There will be no what ifs.
Walk with a full stomach. And walk and walk past the high school kids hanging out in parking lots. Walk out of town, the map was wrong by 4 miles, and I am looking at bar signs wondering if I should stop. I realize, by watching physical actions, how true the butterfly effect is, and how it must be the same with thoughts, because if we could see thoughts moving and shaping social movements and world events more easily we would be more careful about the dominoes in our mind. Because mind dominoes can kill and over throw, and tear down, and rig elections, rape and riot.
And the decision I make here tonight on where I will stay will change the whole domino game, will change, possibly, every person I meet all the way to New York. If I stop at this bar here on the edge of town. But I do not. 2 miles later I look at a church, I will sleep on the steps, but there is no roof over the steps, so I will not. Changing my future again. 2 more miles and there is lightning coming, but strange silent lightning. Some of it is right over us. Why is there no thunder? Cold and rainy. Rain coat and hood. Cover the cart with a tarp. A man stops in a truck. "3 miles up the road theres another church." I can make it that far if I hurry, the storm is coming from the south. Why do I always try to race these storms?
I am hoping for someplace dry. Everything is wet, there is no roof. But under the trees it is not too bad. Set up the tent. The rain falls all night. Sleep with my arm around my dog, warm and dry. Still free.