Here's the update I promised you last week. I can't believe I forgot to tell you all this, but they found the creepy professor. He was dead in Hickory Hill park. I'm sorry for his family, I guess he had a 4 month old baby and a wife in her thirties. I hope he planned well enough so that they're taken care of.
Well, it looks like all of that alone time has paid off. I think I'm finally able to process the trip and the lack of money and the ensuing car problems a little better than last week or the week before. What that means for you poor people, is that I'm going to get all annoyingly reflective in this post and write what it's like to be in my brain when I'm driving. Make sure you tie a rope to something heavy on the outside. Believe me, the last place you want to get stuck is in my head.
When the Robert Plant version of "Big Log" came on your playlist you were driving through Wyoming. You thought that it was exactly what you wanted to hear right then. It was haunting and sad and lonely and all the things you felt when your daughters were asleep and the sun was setting and you still had hours of highway ahead of you. That was it. That fantasy you always kept with you when you were little. The one where you imagined yourself as an adult and you would have five kids and a big old station wagon and you would drive from place to place and see all there was to see in the world. But when you were a kid, you didn't know about the other stuff. You didn't know that you would be responsible. You would have to make sure all those kids were fed and that your car kept working and that you didn't get lost or hurt or robbed.
When Elvis Costello's "Accidents Will Happen" came on, you remembered a time when you were eighteen. You and your middle sister, and brother drove down to Arizona in your brother's '75 Caprice Classic to visit your oldest sister during Winter break. In Texas you were able to pick up the Doctor Demento Show on your radio, but by New Mexico, you couldn't get any decent stations, so you popped in the Costello tape. Your brother was driving and he calmly told you that while you were in the mountains, he had that urge just to let go and drive over a cliff. It wasn't real. He wouldn't have actually done it, but for a split second it was there. It would have been so easy, and you looked at your brother a little differently then. You had no idea he entertained those thoughts every once in a while too - for a split second.
Joy Division's "Love Will Tear Us Apart" brought you back to a Greyhound ride when you were nineteen, going from Santa Rosa to Phoenix where you were eating too many of those fake white cross pills that you thought made you so much more aware. You had your Walkman headphones permanently attached to your ears, which you thought was the universal sign that you didn't want to talk. They didn't stop the poor, pregnant Mormon girl. She wouldn't quit telling you all the things you didn't want to know - like how her boyfriend got her pregnant and because they weren't married, she was ex-communicated from the church. Her boyfriend, who wasn't Mormon was able to join the church because she said, the pregnancy was her fault. What? The pills made you annoyed in general, but hearing all that unfair bullshit almost put you over the edge. You felt bad, but you purposely lost her when the bus stopped in a town somewhere outside of L.A. and you made sure you were the last one back on, so you didn't have to sit by her anymore and hear all of her sad, silly stories.
You were dangerously close to Nebraska when Nada Surf's, "Always Love" came on and it was so hopeful, that you almost let yourself feel that way too. Almost. The lack of finances, the strange burning smell coming from your engine and your boy quandaries kept you from being completely stupidly optimistic. Since it was more interesting to think about boys than your dwindling funds and you needed to stay awake, you wondered about them. Well, one especially, and mostly you questioned why you were still wondering about him. You thought that the last time you talked to him, you forgot to ask him the right question. You asked him why he kept flaking out on you, but after he said he was like that with everyone, even his friends; you forgot to ask him why he pretended that he would call or show up then. Why didn't he just say, all he was capable of was calling and texting from time to time? Did he want to be the kind of person who actually followed through, so he promised things he couldn't really deliver?
Then you stopped right there, because you realized something. The next roadtrip you took, you might hear Nada Surf, and remember being in a quandary about that boy. If it was years from now, you would most definitely still remember his name, but would you be able to recall what all the fuss was about - even for a split second?