Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Cross Country

Let's just quit our jobs and stop going to school and hitchhike across the country like David Sedaris did in the '60s (or was it the '70s?) but less gay and dangerous and labor-intensive and more fun and adventurous. We'll live off the American land, not suckling the teats of society like those no-good boozehound bums on the street that ask you for your last quarter when you need to scrounge that loose change together just to buy a cup of coffee and make some sense of your life. No: we'll do good, honest work, pulling apples off trees in the Pacific Northwest, picking cotton in the South, raking leaves off the lawns of middle America, hell, even doing some of those Dirty Jobs like on that one TV show.

But that's one thing: we won't have TV except in the Bohemian cafes and sports bars and sometimes Greyhound buses, none of which we'll be able to afford. So we'll cut our hands up on rosy thorn bushes for the local flowershop in Shreveport, Louisiana and keep barreling along on our search -- not for the American Dream like Hunter S. Thompson did (or said he did), nor for any Jack Kerouac- or Forrest Gump-style soulsearching. We won't know what we're looking for, but we'll continue looking; we'll know what we want, but I'm not sure that we'll know when we find it.

We're in good standing, so it will take a while before anyone notices that we're gone, and by that time we'll have ripped apart our entire identities, burning our social security cards for warmth in New England, sprinkling tiny pieces of our driver licenses across each state that we visit. Instead of taking samples of the soil like the forlorn soldiers who choose not to forget, we'll leave our own personal trademarks at each wayward stop, chipping our name into a mountainside, running our fingers along the surface of the freshly poured cement in front of an elementary school, spraying the tunnels with our messages of hope. As students and responsible, culturally aware young men and women, we've worked for so long to reduce our carbon footprints, but we'll have to let our feet grow a little for this expedition: we won't just disappear Into the Wild, we'll rub elbows with the highway truckers, take rides from soccer moms, grab cups of joe with everyman Joe Schmoe (6:30 a.m. at that little diner just off Exit 10 -- you know the one).

We'll get to know our America -- not the America of our fathers or our celebrities or our politicians or our historical literary figures. We'll find out what makes everything pulse, day in, day out, and when we finally figure it out, only then can we bring it all to an end.


  1. Here, here! This is probably my favorite of your posts thus far. Beautiful sweeping writing.

    I've been feeling this way since finishing Bill Bryson's "A Walk In the Woods". I wish I had six months to hike the Appalachian Trail.


  2. Yeah, I don't know where this post came from. I think I started off wanting to send someone a message like: "Let's quit our jobs and drive cross-country!"

    But then I was like: "I could turn this into short fiction!"

    I don't have any more ideas for fiction. This was it for a while. Thanks for the compliment!

  3. Yeah, OR we could watch the Simpsons.

    Just kidding. Kind of.

    This is good.