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no room for hipsters

the occupation of Ashley and Levon

down the lane on Grandma's farm

John Steinbeck’s “Travels with Charley, In Search of America” has been my constant partner these past weeks.  I savor it and never let myself read more than a couple of pages.  To find my hero at 60 years old, living in a truck from coast to coast and back, reflecting on pieces of country, nature, people and conversations, is a bit of a treasure.  When I found that he’d written such a book in his own words, I wouldn’t even read it for a while.  I felt like I needed to be somewhere like Texas to begin it.  Or at least be headed towards something like Texas.

As Steinbeck preaches in first person of a slowly unpeeled recognition of the hidden America, 1962, away from the interstate exits and tourist sightfalls; Ashley and I blitzed across most of the country during the night at 85mph stopping only to refill a coffee cup at 24 hour travel centers.  As a result I was visited in a dream by Clint Eastwood, my mind’s manifestation of John Steinbeck.  He sat me in a wooden chair placed in the lonely middle of a Kansas farmhouse and paced around me in circles, articulating my disgrace in a gray growl from behind a fisted jawline.  His leather jacket squished and cowboy boots beat the hollow film-grained floor I stared upon, hoping for a pattern towards forgiveness.  A French poodle, Charley I suppose, lay by the door as lookout and wouldn’t come to me.  It was awful.

I first picked up the book on the bus from Veracruz to Mexico city.  After a few hours then, a couple of sittings at the hostel, a 24 hour ride for the Reynosa border wars, then a couple afternoons at Grandma’s, Memaw’s, and Mom’s in Kentucky; I am on page 56 and the book is breaking in nicely.  For now, I suppose that I don’t really want to read the book.  I just want to have the book, and have my destination, but coincide their contents for as long as I am able.

“I can’t even imagine the forest colors when I am not seeing them.  I wondered whether constant association would cause inattention, and asked a native New Hampshire woman about it.  She said the autumn never failed to amaze her; to elate.  “It is a glory,” she said, “and can’t be remembered, so that it always comes as a surprise.”

~John Steinbeck

Ashley and my Papaw pick this year's tomatoes

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