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Journal 2
COSMO SMILES
Day 15 Rest Day Blythe

The place for breakfast in Blythe, California is called Steaks and Cakes. A large American flag hangs from the ceiling above my table. Two people wear oxygen tanks, 3 wear cowboy hats, 4 are in a fire crew, and 5 are regular folks drinking only coffee and will be here for several hours. 3 signs outside indicate that I have found the right restaurant. Kiwanis meets here on Thursday nights at 6:30, Rotary meets here Wednesdays at noon, and the Lions Club meets at an undisclosed time. Other secret brother-hoods meet here as well, but they don't have signs. One of the men with oxygen bottles tells his wife that he likes Blythe except for the bums and the rapists, they talk about airstream trailers, the silver ones that look like old space ships. He says he wishes he could still chew because he'd like to have a steak this morning. The fire crew to my left talks about big fires they have in Oregon, Montana, Alaska, about how fire seems to be a living thing, about the sounds it makes, its breath, about the ones that they have out run, and where they think the next will be. They fight fire but they love fire, they need fire, and they secretly pray each night that there will be more of them. Just as soldiers pray for war.

My breakfast is a late one, and the Rotarians are beginning to gather. When I was 18, Rotary sent me to live in Bratislava, the capital city of Slovakia. I had lived a small town in Wyoming my whole life. For 8 years after Slovakia I lived and traveled all over Europe, Asia, and the Middle East. That Rotary program was the first of many great adventures, the first time I was ever alone and free, the first time out of my box. Gordon, the president, asks me to be the speaker for today, even with my Buddha shirt and topknot pony tail. Hand shakes, the pledge of allegiance, songs about America and announcements. They donated $400 to the little league team today, and $517 to the childrens finger printing program. The president announces fines, one way they raise money, and Bob, who sits at my table, collects.

A $10 fine for sleeping during the meeting, $10 for having your picture in the paper, $5 for being late, and $1 for being ugly. I tell them about the Ocean, about evolution, about boxes, about the origins and purpose of myth, and packs of coyotes, but I don't tell them about my plan to become president. Handshakes, smiles, offers for help. 2 men tell me they wish they could do it with me.

Down the street at the city Library children gather around to hear my stories and to answer my questions. When I ask Shynel what she knows about America she tells me, "Its a place where people swim in the ocean, and where some people die and some people don't, and some kids' grandpas die." And then she shows me that she knows the pledge of allegiance and two other kids near by come over to join her. Children like to hear about the coyotes.

TV is evil and it takes away my ability to create. I just keep watching it, I need to write, I need to change the world, but it is easier not to, it is easier to stare at the TV. And then Cosmo is back and I can turn it off. I am sorry that Larry and Amy are so tired, I can see it. They don't want to talk, they are not happy, and then they are gone. I am sorry If I have made your life difficult, I only wanted my dog, thank you for your help. Cosmo and I leave the cart in the motel and walk all the way to Ripley, to where I was picked up. I would rather go to sleep but I will not cheat even 6 miles on this trip. Cosmo is happy, it is cold at night and her tail curls when it is cold. Sometimes she smiles. Many hours in the dark, but the same smells of home and the walk goes quickly like dream. Back at the Motel cosmo sleeps on her back with her legs up in the air, she makes me laugh everyday, I need to laugh. I could not do this trip without her.

I don't want to tell you about the TV I am watching tonight. It is a break, it is a box for me to crawl into for a few hours. Tomorrow Arizona. Tomorrow I will crawl out again and I hope to have something for you.