MY GRANDMA TELLS ME
I AM GOING TO HELL
Day 27 Apache Jct. to Superior
miles today: 27 cumulative: 509
The only place to eat for 10 miles is this Burger King. I do not like to eat in these places, the food always makes me feel sick, but today it will fill my stomach and today I meet some good people in the Burger King. When my order comes up, the two teenagers at the register hand me a tray with 5 breakfasts on it. That look about right? They ask with huge smiles. Yeah guys, that looks about right. His name tag says Wade. Thanks Wade. Generosity when I least expect it, and a few sausage patties for Cosmo. Change the tire with help from Hap. Hap saw me sleeping by the garbage. Hap is a retired man who works at this Burger King because he worked 80 hours a week his whole life, and now he doesn't know how not to work. Hap's hat has an American Flag on it.
On the way out of town we pass a walled complex, Sunset Estates, one of hundreds that make up these cities around Phoenix. This one is the strangest yet. The buildings are little 8 by 12 foot boxes, literally boxes. All the same color, all with satellite dishes, all of them with a +55 resident, according to the sign out front of the computer keypad gate. What kind of experiment is going on here in this box city? Around the corner the residents of Sunset Estates are having a picnic for a couple that is moving away. They offer us lunch. I never refuse food. The box people are kind, old, retired people who live in a community filled with other kind, old, retired people. It is safe. And at least their box has an open end, an RV to drive into the desert. They say that if we were over 55 years old theyd invite us to come stay, but rules are rules. American flags wave, silver perms, American Legion hats, big rhinestone glasses, potato salad, ginger ale, 25 disposable cameras flashing the gypsy and his companion, the same questions over and over because they didnt hear the other guy ask. Good people. I like rhinestone glasses.
No vacation, highway calls, a holiday and traffic like the Interstate, but at least the Interstate has a good shoulder. Everyone is driving 80 miles and hour, everyone is honking and yelling at us for ruining their whole day, slowing them down or making them take their car out of a straight line for 5 seconds. I am a burden to society. A black sports car hits the flag that I have sticking off of the cart, the lights I put on that flag shatter. 1 inch to the right and it would hav g otten the cart. The road is straight and we are very visible, people are coming close to us on purpose. A statement. For the first time on this trip, I throw a tantrum, fists in the air, all the bad words I know, flailing, insults to the air, they are already so far gone they cant even see me.
Up the road the shoulder gets worse, narrower, sleeper bars make the cart shake, whack, whack, whack, whack, whack, whack, for 10 miles. A new gauntlet to run every * mile, bottle necks and guard rails that take my 2 foot shoulder away, and we run through these hoping that another car will not hit us. Cosmo is not enjoying the sun. It is 83 degrees.
A junction in the road, sun is setting, we need to rest. We sit under a NO LOITERING sign for 3 hours. Cosmo sleeps with all 4 legs up in the air. I make phone calls and check my feet for new blisters. A call to Ridgecrest, California, to my Grandma Dolly, whos real name is Wyoma, named after the state of Wyoming. My Grandma wants to test me. She asks if I have been praying everyday. I tell her that I do, but in a different way than she does, and that sometimes that just by keeping my feet moving I am praying. She is very confused, dont you know theres only one way to pray. Why do you pray different, dont you believe in Jesus? No Grandma I dont, not the way you do. Well, theres only one way she tells me and all the propaganda that goes along with that. She had her suspicions she says, with the way I live my life and all. There will be a day of reckoning. There will be day when you are going to be very sorry. But grandma, Im happy, I have love, I am free, I am kind, I am generous, I dont need to give God a face, I dont need to follow a man that died 2000 years ago when there are men and women alive today, when I am alive, when I can look in the mirror and say that anything is possible. I dont need that crutch. She is not convinced. I am going to hell, and shes sure of it. Shell pray for me everyday she says, pray that Ill see the light, but Ive already seen it and it doesnt have a name.
Cold night, cold, cold, night. Locomotive breath. Cosmo walks so hard I have to pull her back. Cactus in headlights. Our first hill, we will rise out of the desert, and we will not return for 3 weeks, 3 weeks of hills. Cosmo doesnt slow down even on the steepest section. The cold is the secret. She is invincible in the cold. The lights of Superior after the long hill, and then down, and looking for a side road to get us away from the cars. 1:00 am. There are no side roads, but we can get 30 feet off the road behind some trees, and the sky is so clear. I will not set up the tent. Cosmo, can you see the stars? I ask her, as she stares into the sky. Ive never seen her stare into the sky. I stay awake talking to Cosmo, staring at distant suns. Alissa. Cosmo moves closer to me, she lays her head on my chest. The stars fade and flash, my legs have stopped but I continue to travel in my mind, to the stars, to her bed, to June flowers in the Bighorns, the cliffs of Picking Post Mountain in the moonlight just in front of me, laying across the tops of desert trees, defying gravity, just the tips holding my weight.