It’s like déjà vu but with a different car and no dog. And it’s spring, not summer.
Remember when I started this trip back in August of last year, and I went to see my friend, Chad, and we played Yahtzee and painted my kitchen table red and took Rennie hiking, during which Rennie tried to swim for the first time? Well, I’m back in Chattanooga, visiting Chad again. It’s my first stop in the new Facebook Project vehicle, which seems sort of appropriate, since it was my first stop in Roxanne. And did I really just spell that one out for you? Yes, I did. So, while I’m at it: did you notice the above picture is mimicking the Roxie on a Slant shot that I took last time I was here? And did you see that this time it’s called No-Name on a Slant? That’s because I want to call my new set of wheels Jeffrey, the reasoning being that while I am not particularly fond of the moniker for any poetic reasons, it’s a solid name that conveys a man of trust, honor and virtue, which is something I could use about now. But Chad is protesting violently, saying that it’s obvious that I am choosing one of the more boring names in life, simply because I am afraid of choosing something more daring, for fear it will bring bad luck upon me. So what if that’s my story? My wheels flew off. I have the right to be suspicious. Or superstitious. Or timid and trembling.
Still, naysaying aside, I’m going to drive ole what’s-his-face around for a few more days before I officially christen him, and whatever I do end up calling him, it will most definitely be a man’s name, because I’m tired of these bitchy females and their uppity whims and fancies.
Anyhow. I got to town on Wednesday and just like last time, I found Chad in a nearly feverish state of exhaustion but it took a few more days of super exertion for him to realize it and slow down and sleep for more than four hours a night, and so before that happened, I went to work with him a few times and the first morning, we were on our way to a business networking meeting, which was going to be followed by a tiling job but then a friend called and needed Chad’s help with something super urgent, and so Chad rearranged everything to help this friend but then that fell through and we were suddenly left with nothing to do. Chad pulled over at the nearest Starbucks. He needed to think. We also needed to talk about No-Name and what we were going to do to the back of him, because I was thinking I needed to turn the entire space behind the front seats into a sleeping platform and Chad was going to help me do that but as soon as he heard how much stuff I had waiting for me back in Austin, he was skeptical.
“Here’s what I see being the problem,” he said. “You’re not on-board with doing what needs to be done. As far as using your vehicle as a sleeping car, the way to do that is to have as little as possible.”
“Okay,” I said, demonstrating how on-board I was.
“If you really want to save all your stuff, there’s no way to do that,” he said. “They’re opposing forces and they very quickly cancel each other out.”
Even if No-Name was a third full, but certainly if he was half full, Chad said that to use the sleeping platform on any given night, I would have to move things outside of the vehicle for me to be able to fit in there, and then I would be leaving my things outside in a way that would not be secure.
“And then you’ll just have a nice, easy rest on the side of the road?” he said. “Never gonna happen.”
“I’ll just tie Rennie to the outside of the car,” I said, totally (TOTALLY) joking. “Just surround him with stuff.”
“Activate: defense matrix,” Chad said.
But seriously, if I had a sleeping car that I towed behind No-Name, he said, it would be fine but as it was, it would not work, so why not just camp regularly in a tent?
“That basically takes Walmart away as an option,” I said. “But that’s fine.”
And then I had to explain to Chad how it worked, camping at Walmart, because he had no idea that you could do that, except rather than be impressed that this was an option in life, he was horrified, telling me he was going to take me there that night.
“We’re going to go to Walmart at 3 o’ clock in the morning and you’re going to see the kind of people that are milling about your car,” he said.
So there you go. We decided not to turn No-Name into a camper and then it was time to have my portrait painted by Brett, one of Chad’s housemates who was once an engineer, before he got into landscape painting. Recently, he started trying to do more portraits but his model for last week fell through, so Chad volunteered me but then he only had about three hours to work on me, including stretching breaks, because Chad needed me at 4 o’ clock to work on pouring a cement slab, so it was a little bit rushed and I was dressed to do manual labor but it didn’t matter, really, because it was just a head shot. And oh my god, it turned out really, really well. He totally nailed my chin and my nose and my clavicle and my eyebrows doing their skeptical, shooting-straight-up-into-the-air thing. I was happy with it and so was he.
Then Friday came, and Chad and I were working on another job, this time getting a shower wall ready for tile, and suddenly, Chad said that he was ready to chill out a little, because he had been going for about a month straight with no break, and so we put our tools away and spent the rest of my time in town doing his errands, visiting his friends, hanging out at some of his favorite joints, going to high spots for views and low spots for kayaking, and even managing to get in massages at a health center— my payment for helping him (and an ingenious strategy, for future reference).
Basically, in short, I think My Trip: Take Two, has been properly consecrated now; don’t you?