Somebody I don’t know donated a couple dollars to my Ko-fi account. I’m a little embarrassed, like it’s Christmas but I didn’t get you anything. Mostly though I’m flattered. Anyway, thanks.
I went driving across town. I had the windows up because it was blustery. I was listening to that new Drake and Future drop. Most of the drive was sunny, even though most of the day was cloudy. But it got cloudy again around the old Kroger that Harris Teeter bought. It’s only ever cloudy when I’m around there. I don’t know what it is. Secret magic; un-understood science.
At the light, stopped, on the corner of High House where the lights are always long, I checked the news. There were stories on Iran. How they shot that plane down accidentally and now they’re owning up to it. So I was thinking about Iran the way I have been most of the week. I was thinking about how little I know of the country. I was thinking about that story from last century where we coordinated the coup against their democratic government and re-installed the Shah. A lot of stray thoughts that I don’t have enough room in my house for.
I fell asleep last night while M was still up. She tells me she’s up til two feeling restless, or kept up by the cat. Meanwhile I’m out. It’s funny how we share the world. How some of us are up, some of us asleep. It’s like there’s not enough room for everyone so we’ve got to take turns. A raft ride at a water park, sleepwalking toward the drop. And so much of it is scary but when I think about M up at odd ours, or opening her eyes when I’m clean out, it seems like things are in good hands. That’s peace, I guess.
Sitting at home on a gray day on my lunch break writing a Coffee Log early because I’ll be driving this evening. Weather calls for thunderstorms. Open highways, greased lightning.
Last night was spent packing. I’ll be living the weekend away. I haven’t gone too far lately, this will be the farthest. I like long drives. Here’s one I remember:
Ten years ago, headed back from the beach with a full car. We’d gone to a concert, Bomb the Music Industry! It was a good concert and let out at midnight but none of use felt like staying in New Bern (or had the money to). E was driving. He took us home through the early morning. We listened to more music, but softer because all our ears were blown. Just past Raleigh, I fell asleep. There were guys to either side of me. Warmer than a blanket, people I still know.
I’m not taking today’s trip alone. A different E’s coming with me, though we part ways when we get there. Sometimes it’s nice to take stock of what you’ve got, the people who won’t lose you, no matter what kinds of storm winds blow.
I was driving down I-40 when the light cut out. The sun gave up enough to kneel behind the treeline, but it was only 7:30 so the streetlamps weren’t on. A bluish-gold darkness, like ducking your head in old bathwater, or under sheets in the morning, or below two bare thighs. Comforting, but dangerously taking your breath away.
I took off my sunglasses. I’d bought a pair of aviators to replace the old ones my uncle gave me. It didn’t help much, trying to see the world without lenses, only bolded the backlights on fast cars and Saturday fleetrucks tanking overtime. Didn’t change the fact that nothing I was seeing was new.
I have five ghosts that follow me but only know four of their names. They peek through trees around sundown or finger soft scratches on the underside of my car. Mostly they’re reminders of the people in my genes, the squeeze of history, blue smoke, different cancers. The fifth ghost rarely shows itself, though, so I’m wary of it.
I got home at 8:00, pulling in the parking lot when porchlights cut on.
Coffee: Cafe Pajaro, Trader Joe’s Brand; today was the first time in two weeks that I ground my own coffee for the morning; I put four scoops in the grinder and sat in my desk chair turning the handle; the beans went ‘swoosh!’ like they always do; beach sand; things taste better when you put a little work in them; the coffee was like old daydreams, the kind you can still get lost in from time to time.
Today I got caught in traffic coming and going from Burlington. I was driving down for mother’s day. We ate dinner at a Mexican restaurant that puts chicken broth in their rice and lard in their beans. Hard times for a vegetarian, but it was nice seeing my parents nonetheless.
Back to the traffic jams – today was rainy. Fits and starts of the stuff, never a full-on storm. I guess that’s why there were so many accidents. People weren’t prepared for the wet flashes. There was no telling what would happen next.
On the way down, I spend half and hour at a full stop listening to old mixtapes. Coming back, I called a friend. Both ways, the wet grey day brought bright colors out of the parked cars. The rear-lights were bulging zits over the back bumpers. The paint could be anything from candy to a pocket full of change.
One thing I like about driving is how it forces you to slow down. You’re at the mercy of something outside of yourself – the traffic won’t move no matter how much you yell at it. Most days, I’m wrestling with the things I can control. It’s nice taking a break sometimes.
Currently Reading: Kitchen Confidential, Anthony Bourdain
Coffee: Pike Place from the Apartment Office Lounge; an overcast, semi-rainy day, unconscionable to not walk somewhere, so I walked to the lounge to get coffee; I was alone in the lounge; by the time I left, it started raining; lightly, though; I dried off at home with the help of the coffee; the taste was a mix of middling hotels and bingo games at the senior center.
Today, I swept the porch. It was still green from this spring’s pollen cyclone. We’ve got three chairs, I wiped down one of them but left the others because spiders had taken them over. If I’m being honest, I was squeamish to swat the spiders but also I didn’t want to hurt them.
So started a long day of going in and out of the apartment. I brought three different drinks to the deck. At 1pm, I tried writing. At 2pm, I tried reading. At 3 I talked to a friend, and at 4 I was just there because I couldn’t figure out where else to be. I was feeling restless. I’ve been feeling restless for a long time.
By six, I’d seen enough from the porch so I took a drive. The clouds had cleared enough to show some bright spots but they hung around the edges like a hopeless lover. There were sun showers and lots of people out walking their dogs. By the end of the trip, I’d crossed Cary. I was all the way in Morrisville. Coming back, the sky was just as complicated.
Currently Reading: Kitchen Confidential, Anthony Bourdain
I’m sick. It’s not terrible: my head feels stiff and my throat itches. Other than that, I’m golden.
But still, I’m sick.
We had work today. It was delayed an hour. It started snowing on the drive. The road disappeared and it was like an expedition. You couldn’t keep the white off your windshield. Along the road, there were three or four cars that had run off into the trees. Each one was partnered by a cop car. The lights were Christmas trees as you came up to them through the blizzard. And in all of this I wasn’t nervous – even when the car kept slipping – and maybe that’s just because I was too sick to think about it.
Here I am. People have a habit of making it through things. It’s the greatest wonder in the world, human vigor. I’m drinking orange juice. The house is warm. I’ll be going to sleep after I write this. Night night.
Novel Count: (on hiatus while I recover from this cold)
Currently Reading: Autumn, Ali Smith; Cherry, Nico Walker
Coffee: Cafe Pajaro Extra Dark, Trader Joe’s Brand
It’s been a week of traffic. I’m driving to a branch in RTP. Maps says 25 minutes but the trip always takes longer. I was five minutes late the first day, five minutes late the second, etc. I even turned the clock back on departure but I was late all the same.
I like it though.
Five years ago I was a teacher. I got the job in Durham then had a bad break-up. I’d been living there, the break-up broke that up. I moved home for awhile. The commute was Burlington to Durham, 45min one way. I left early and stopped for coffee at a truck stop in Haw River each day. I got to see the sun rise. On three separate occasions, I passed a burning semi pulled over in the pre-dawn. It got to be an omen. I didn’t like the commute so much back then.
But I’ve come to appreciate the in-between. Nothing can phase you on the road. No goals, no expectations. You’re stuck. It’s lovely. It may feel like you’re trapped, but really the whole world is on hold for you. What’s that? There’s dishes needing doing? Later! And work? Bumper-to-bumper says I’ll be a few minutes late. And when I get there I’ll unpack the car of all your things – the clothes, the letters, the mattress pad you used to sleep on, hand them off one at a time in your driveway, and watch you take the shortcut through the garden on a cloudy day to deposit yourself back in comfortable places, turn the key, wave from the window, and lovingly say ‘bye’ forever – but for now, the doors are locked and I’m moving, only looking left and right and never too far in the future.
urrently Reading: Autumn, Ali Smith; Cherry, Nico Walker