August 17, 2010

15

Somewhere in Tennessee

Roxanne is parked at about a 25-degree angle in front of the house and it’s pouring down rain but I am inside, watching it from the window in my top-story room, and Rennie is napping in his crate behind me and I’ve had a mega dose of coffee, and all is well.

It took longer than I expected to get here yesterday: 202.7 miles in exactly five hours. But that’s because I was on back roads for most of it and because I missed a few turns and had to stop a few times to consult my atlas and my Google Maps app (and because Rennie had to pee). I was trying to avoid interstates altogether but then I got to this point where the road I was looking for apparently did not exist and I was about 20 miles from my final destination and the interstate was RIGHT there and I was faced with a choice: keep trying to find the road I wanted to take, and risk getting caught in rain AND darkness, or just suck it up and barrel on out there and hold the wheel as tightly as I could when I saw an 18-wheeler about to pass me (because anyone who has driven a top-heavy vehicle that cannot really go faster than 60 (65, tops) knows what it feels like to get passed by a semi going 75).

But I remembered telling my mom I would be prudent and this seemed like a good time to do that, so I did. And it was kinda scary but there you go. It won’t be the first time that happens.

Once here, my friend, Chad, welcomed me in his feverish state, as he was getting over some sort of illness, which he suspected he had brought upon himself by overexertion, but I was already all sweaty from having ridden with the windows down the entire time, so it didn’t matter that we were both kind of damp as we hugged. Last time I saw him was down in Mexico, exactly a year ago, and before that, we had not hung out for about seven years.

“He’s our superhero,” his neighbor said to me over the fence. “Make sure you put that in there.”

It’s true. Every time I see Chad, I cannot wait to hear what he is up to now. There is usually some sort of construction work to pay the bills, while he pursues something else on the side— poetry, calligraphy, martial arts. One time, I went to visit him in South Florida, where he had moved to be closer to his Win Chun master.

This time, it’s nursing that he wants to go into, because while his construction business is going well, a nursing job would allow him to work a full, intense weekend, for example, and then have the rest of the week off to devote to writing, which is really what he wants to do.

Ah, don’t I know that feeling? The whole point of this trip is to do more of just that and as a fellow writer, I understand the frustration of working a day job, so as to be able to do what you really, really want to do at night— or in my case, first thing in the morning. I finally got tired of it and because I happen to have the resources (or at least, I think I do), I am seeing once and for all if I can cut it. But I know that I am extraordinarily lucky to be doing this and I do not propose that everyone who wants to be a writer do it this way, either, because it’s also extraordinarily crazy. A year? On the road? Living out of my camper? Driving from one end of the country to the other? And back again? Visiting, like, 230 people?

Yeah. I know. And maybe it won’t work this way but we’ll see.

At any rate, my first day on the job went well. I got here around dinnertime and once Rennie was all sorted with his space and his things, Chad and I were going to go out for dinner and then shop for some groceries but his housemates said not to bother, because they were going to be making a big curry feast in any case and there was plenty to share, so we accepted their offer and afterward, as we sat around digesting and having a few drinks and preparing ourselves to play a game of Yahtzee, talk turned to my project. Chad mused that for him, Facebook has been a way for him to maintain relationships with people with whom he would otherwise have no contact, because they do not have enough to say to each other on the phone, but he still wants to know what they are up to.

“Yeah,” I said. “I am sure that’s going to happen a lot, where I visit someone and there’s lots of chirping crickets.”

But, I added, I hope that it’s also when I visit those people who I don’t know too well, or who I have not seen in about 12 years, that we bond over something perhaps totally unexpected.

Then our philosophical half hour ended and the four of us put on our game faces and started rolling the dice around and adding up the dots, and of course, I got inescapably tired about 20 minutes in, so Chad took over my score card and I went to bed and slept hard for however many hours until about 6:30, when both my internal clock and Rennie’s chewing noises woke me up.

“Who won Yahtzee?” I asked Chad.

“We did.”

Except we didn’t, because we actually scored four points less than the highest score, and because the other two each had a turn left, when Chad thought the game was over. But what’s the difference, really? I mean, success is just one person’s perspective; isn’t it?

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15 Comments Post a comment
  1. SirenaSteve
    Aug 17 2010

    From my perspective, you are most certainly a success.

    Reply
  2. Stephanie Cheatley
    Aug 17 2010

    I love that your first visit was a nice uncomplicated evening of Yatzee. Future facehosts won’t feel the need to plan elaborate staged events just to sound good in print. But then again you make everything sound good in print.

    Reply
    • Aug 18 2010

      Thank you, Stephanie. And I should hope no one feels any pressure to be anything in particular. I am the most homebody of homebodies there is! The more boardgames, the better. But really, I just want to see how people live their lives, whatever that may involve.

      Reply
  3. Aug 18 2010

    Sounds like a good first day on the job!

    Reply
  4. Aug 18 2010

    we did win that game.

    Reply
  5. Britta Hartmann
    Aug 18 2010

    Hi Margret… like this page… will write you more… take care… Britta

    Reply
  6. Mindy
    Aug 18 2010

    I’m curious. Where did you find Roxanne and is that 51K-ish odometer really correct or are there some numbers missing in front of that?

    Reply
    • Aug 18 2010

      Hi, Mindy! My sister found the ad on Craigslist and the guy selling her happened to be about a mile down the road from me in Athens, Ga. This was back in May when I was home for about six weeks. The odometer is actually at about 5K and it’s already rolled all the way over once, so she’s got 105K on her. People asked me if I was sure it had not been rolled backwards and I guess you can never be totally sure on something like that, but wear and tear on the engine seems consistent with the supposed mileage. The engine is a 20R, though, and it has a super reputation for going at least 250K, if not more.

      Reply
  7. sam romero
    Aug 19 2010

    so good read you! mi querida Margaret…I started to like it more and more. when is a good time to call you?
    and do you really have to go on the back roads¿ or wait for darkness? rain it is OK, hard to avoid…please be careful…I want to keep on reading you! love you mi amor!

    Reply
  8. Sandy Mabery
    Aug 19 2010

    Sounds like you are off to good start. See you in a week.

    Reply

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