A History of My Life

I had to travel halfway across country because my mother called me one day and told me that my cousin had died. No one else from our family could make it, but we needed a representative there, so I was forced out.

On the way to Wisconsin, I stopped at a bar in Pennsylvania, a truck stop five minutes from the highway, in which I met Doug who looked at me questioning. I could tell I stuck out. He looked with his hands down my shirt and over my pants, he held on to my shoes. He walked up to me and asked what I was drinking. Long island iced tea. It reminds me of home. Doug asked what I was doing there. I explained the situation, how my mother had convinced me to go, how I was in mourning, he said he could hold me. It wouldn’t be a big deal. We drank and watched the football on the tv and his friends kept coming in, so he broke off to say hi. We had a few nice conversations. I told him about my travels. How I’d driven so far in a day. He told me it was boring around there. The same thing every day in and out. He lived a few miles away in his parents’ old cabin. They live a few miles away, in an old folk’s home, the only one in this part of the country. He didn’t see them often. He was lonely. I could tell. He had so many friends at the bar. Only talked to them briefly. Didn’t seem to really really know any of them. Seemed happy upon sight of their faces, lost when the conversation took a real turn. He knew the bartender. We sat all the way at the end. He questioned my situation. I told him I had a room reserved for me some miles down the road. He said I could stay with him. Why not. I went with him in his white corolla. I left my car at the bar. He said it was fine. He asked the bartender after my insistence. The bartender said it was alright. The road was smooth, there were a lot of rolling hills. I held my hand out the window. Stared at the blackness. There were few streetlights. This is the real country he explained. He put the high beams on. He put his hand on my left thigh. I let him hold it there. We arrived at his house after about twenty minutes. It was surprisingly modern. The cabin was renovated recently, he had done it all himself. All the plumbing, all the carpentry, everything. You need to live somewhere that you feel really comfortable, you know. I sat on the couch. He turned on the tv. We sat there paralyzed for hours. His hand on my thigh. I rested my head on his shoulder. I woke up in the morning to find both of us angled over, still on the couch. I nudged his shoulder, he didn’t wake. I walked over to the kitchen. Pulled out all the cabinets and inspected all the ingredients, made a simple breakfast. Eggs and biscuits and yogurt. He had goats and chickens. I grabbed the eggs and the milk. He woke and we ate at the wooden table. We didn’t talk. He reached for my hand under the table, I held it. I thanked him. He gave me a ride back. I picked up my car, right where I left it, and continued on. He called me once after, a few weeks later, it was brief, we never talked again.

I continued to the funeral. I budgeted more than enough time in my initial plans. I knew that I had time to spend. Pennsylvania disappeared as the sun set. I stepped into Ohio. Ended up in a college town. I was on main street looking through all the empty windows. You won’t find much here. It’s the off season. And all the shops and restaurants and gas stations have moved to the other side of town. We’re outdated here. We’re too old and ancient. No one wants to spend time with us anymore. It was an elderly couple. They held each other’s hand. They wore similar outfits. He with a handmade scarf. She with a small cap. I introduced myself. Said I was just passing through. They asked why I stopped here. The name reminded me of something. I saw the sign on the highway. Thought there’s no harm in checking it out. I think one of my friends might have lived here at some point, gone to school here. They don’t live here anymore. I heard the lake was nice. It still is. They took me on a walking tour. Told me all the histories they knew. Described that town in outrageous detail, I wondered how they remembered it all. I didn’t talk much. They supplied what the other forgot. They were in sync. I was invited over for dinner. I ate the corn and the salad and the bread and the vegetables and drank a few glasses of wine. They let me stay in their sons’ bedroom. It was preserved in that same way for thirty years. Their son now has grown-up kids. The room contained styles I hadn’t seen so clearly in my own life, things that went completely together, not taken out of context like how they’re usually shown. I slept quietly. The cat came in during the night. The cat slept at my feet. It was a calm night. I woke to a warm breakfast. I helped garden. I stayed in the town. They showed me the school. The playground. The wonderful parks. The majestic lake. I left them there, watching the day pass. I picked up some gas. I received some head at the same gas station. I left that town.

They were only forty or so miles from a big city, so I passed it quickly after, it was on a bigger lake. I pulled up to the grand hotel. Got out. They took my bag, my jacket which I hadn’t worn in months. I walked up to my room. I was on the top floor. I looked over the city. I saw nothing familiar. I decided to go down. I was approached by a woman named Clarissa in the lobby. She asked if I knew anything about this place, if I could show her around, I told her that I would ask her the same thing. We stuck together. Got dinner at this American place, I had shrimp and salad. There the waiter told us of a cabaret show happening that night. We showed up right as it was starting, didn’t need tickets because we were such esteemed guests, we were sure they were mistaken. I was told later on that they’re just really welcoming to outsiders. It was a great show. We commuted back to the hotel together. I slept in her room. At the foot of her bed. I moved onto the next day. She was headed in the same direction, but we traveled separately. I saw her car diverge about twenty miles outside of town, I guess she changed her mind, wanted to head south. The sun rose late that day. It was hard not to think of my mother. The drive was alright.

That day I decided to really try something out. To see if I could find someone special. I stopped in a bunch of little towns. Lots of small shops with similar treats and similar types of people. I felt alright. Just found old ladies and cats and knitted sweaters. I saw an open bar. I decided to stop in for a quick drink. I made it out of there before the sun set. I was scared they were all vampires.

I met John at a rest stop condominium mall complex, he said he lived there, but had only moved recently, it was not his favorite place, he was from a big city, there he felt lonely. He could get everything he needed right there. He worked at the mall, he didn’t really need to go out. He missed the outdoors. It was a huge complex. He showed me around. We didn’t go into any of the stores, just peeked through the windows. He showed me the luxury store he worked at, the outfit they had given him. It was a grand black suit. I held on to it tightly as he gave me head in the lobby bathroom of the ritz. I was sitting on the floor. He asked if we could get a drink. Sadly not, I told him. He said he’d see me in the morning. I said I’d see him one day. I can barely remember his face, but I know the fabric of that jacket. I know how long it took me to walk from that bathroom to my car, how long it took me to get the hell out of there. I moved on.

When my mom called me I was with Tim down at the beach. It was cloudy. I took a walk that night and ran into the densest fog I’d ever seen. I walked for about a mile or two down the beach slowly undressing along the way and ended up naked far from home. I dipped my feet into the freezing water but was too scared to go all the way in. I headed back in the direction I thought was home. Tim came running out of nowhere reached out and pulled me into himself. We fell into the sand. Then fell into the bed. I awoke in the middle of the night to the call from my mother. My cousin had died. I hadn’t known him well. Had only seen him twice or three times, that side of the family has always been distant. But someone needed to go to the funeral. I didn’t object entirely. Left some room open so I could be convinced. It’d be nice to head out and see that part of the country. I’d been so isolated for so long. Hadn’t traveled for a few years up to that point. I needed to get out. Seemed like the right opportunity. Tim wasn’t happy about it, wanted to lie there forever. Told him to deal with it. Knew he still loved me. Started on the journey that night. He was there when I returned.

They told me not to ask questions. Just to take comfort in their presence, I wouldn’t be around them again, not for a long time, it’s not worth the agitation. I didn’t know why they told me this, but I thought about it heavily. Wondered about why they thought it must be said. Thought that they didn’t trust me or something, but they did send me as their representative. I didn’t cry when I found out because I didn’t know him well but I was sad when thinking about all the pain he must have been feeling and all the pain hitting those who loved him most. I planned to sit at the back. I only brought two outfits. The suit. Jeans and a t-shirt.

I always needed some agitator in my life. Something to get me stirred up. When I left John and drove to the next town over, I was more than surprised to be sitting next to a man at the bar who looked me deeply in my eyes and asked me bluntly if I wanted anything to drink. I knew he’d be trouble. Something was up. There was a not physical irregularity in his cornea, something which convinced me that he knew me and I knew him and I stared at him a long time before answering. He was patient. Said nothing else. Waited for me to give him an answer, something to order. Same as always. Long island iced tea. He got the same. Reminds me of home, I told him., We talked for a few hours. I entered the bar around 11am, he was there because work had been called off, his mother was deeply ill, and he just needed a break. We had lunch at the counter. Grilled cheese and fries. I had a chocolate milkshake. He said he’d show me around. I was only in town for the day. It turned into two, then three, then many more. I had allotted some time into my schedule for deviation, but not that much. It was pressing on my mind. I needed to get to this funeral. I didn’t want to leave him behind. I decided it wasn’t a big deal. I left him for a moment. Went to the funeral, knew no one, talked to no one. Reminded them I was family. They acknowledged it. I left to go back. I found him at the same bar, the same story, I stayed there for a while.

It was landlocked. There was no nearby source of water save for a small creek, and I missed swimming, but it was bearable because I was with him. He worked at a local advertising agency. I told him I was looking for a job. He found me one at the taxidermiscist’s which I didn’t love but was procedural enough to keep me engaged. I just prepared everything for the main man who really took care of it, and I helped with the business stuff. It was easy going. Outside of that I read a bunch and spent all my time with him. We were close and we were together. I decided to leave after a while, there was too little going on.

I called Tim, told him I’d be longer. I decided to head out further west. I hadn’t traveled far enough. I needed to see what else was going on. I took the car and drove as far as it would take me until it broke down. I think I was just driving in circles for a while. It was repetitive. I drove myself tired. I saw a sign for rental apartments in a lonely looking building in a town whose name I hadn’t heard of it. Walked in, put down some cash, got my room, sat down in my new bed. I was tired. Slept for a few days. Decided to get up. Needed a job. Had to figure things out. There was a nice park nearby. I met this woman, Julia, her daughter, Beth. They were kind. Wondering what I was doing there. How I had traveled so far. I told them this whole story. They didn’t understand, but they were accepting. It was alright. They had a nice house. Her husband was gone. He left for weeks at a time. They had a sweet dog. Nice food in a fridge. I saw them often when I lived there. Never saw the husband. He wasn’t talked about much. I worked on nothing. There was a nearby laboratory, they took some blood samples and I sat there for hours. I was paid handsomely. I started to feel a bit frail so I decided to leave. It was no longer the right place for me.

There was a realization that everything seemed so familiar. It was all the same. And it always came crashing down. I met so many people. So many faces unfamiliar who appeared to me and then disappeared, most I haven’t seen again. I ended up in Wisconsin. Stayed there for a few months. There was a guy, I never got his name, passing through town, he invited me to his cabin upstate, he showed me all the toys he had. I never made it up because the roof caved in after a particularly hard snowfall. The town used to be one home to the headquarters of one of the biggest beer producers in the country. It was sort of derelict then. All the remnants of its past success hung like ghosts off of buildings and greeted everyone who entered the town. My mom called me a few times, asked where I was. I told her what happened at the funeral. I told her that I needed a break from my life, so I decided to get out. I wanted to head out and meet new people, no one who knew anyone who knew me. It was a quiet town. I lived next to the field where all the kids liked to play. There was a great diner. The crispiest fries around. It got lonely there, so I headed out.

The next town I came across was abandoned. I read about some of its history online, realized that it had been this way for a while. No one lived within a thirty-mile radius, I found the old hotel at the center of town, it was amazingly well furnished and seemed untouched. I found the presidential suite and set up residence. Two men visited me there, their grandparents used to live in the town, so they visited often. It reminded them of something they never knew. They stayed in my room with me a few nights and days. In those moments I felt really safe. I had just the car keeping me company until they arrived. It was a nice change of pace. So much of nothing happened during those days but I was content. Happy in their arms and not wanting or needing anything more. Those days faded just like the rest and I moved on. I miss that old hotel. It was kind to me.

Millie and Richard were the names of the couple I met on the road when my car broke down in the middle of Kansas. She knew about cars. She understood the problem. She fixed it up. She sent me on my way.

There was a lot of waiting. Really just sitting around. Those times flew bye although the unavoidable pain I felt was present every day. The moments of stillness around it made up for it and I was alright. There was a test I encountered a few times. I’d look myself in the mirror and not recognize myself, I didn’t know who I was. I would stare for a few seconds and determine that it was just a particular person who kind of looked like me who looked back. I wasn’t scared. Just a bit confused is all. It was hard not knowing what that meant. No one could help me. No one knew how to figure it out. I was dreaming and so alone. It was tough and a bit rough. In those days I used to picture a man flying through the sky not held down by anything and really seeping it all in. This man seemed so free and happy with his life. All was perfect. I liked to imagine places and people and ways of living that seemed ideal, although those places and people and things obviously could never actually exist. I wanted to ignore the pain because I felt it too much. It was totalizing. Took me over. My mom would have guessed it to be related to the funeral, but I barely knew the guy. It was coming from within. Taking over myself.

I arrived at the edge of a woods. I had heard the name before but had never been. It was a grand, big, old park set in the middle of nowhere. People from all over traveled to meet it. I was lonely. I entered alone. Jim, the caretaker met me while I held my hand on a tree overlooking the ravine. He told me that the tree would bond with me if I held my hand there too long. I had no idea what he said. I just held it there until I realized he was joking. He said he knew the park so well. Said he could show me around. He led me through clearing after clearing and past tree after tree, it would have been repetitive except for the fact that once I saw the same types of trees over and over again I was really able to start looking at them and take in their distinctions. It was so beautiful how they fit together so nicely and existed so peacefully. He talked with a love for the trees I had never known. He moved at a swift pace, but he was aware of mine, and he adjusted accordingly, pushing me forward, but holding back a bit, allowing me to follow on but still be free. We arrived at a small wooden cabin, something that looked like a picture of Lincoln’s childhood home. He had no running water. The structure was built over a creek, that’s how he made do. There was no electricity. There was none allowed in the park. He walked in and out. Had a solar-powered walkie talkie which was used to communicate with the troops. He was pretty happy with that life it seemed. Over the course of the next few weeks he showed me every inch of that park. We ate off the land. I left him at his door when I walked out. Looking over my shoulder and waving back.

I was starting to lose steam. Didn’t know how much longer I could make it. It was exhausting to travel all the time. I was ready to settle down. I bought land in the middle of nowhere. I built a house. It was specially designed my me. Everything I needed exactly where it should be. I settled in. Started a family. I loved my wife dearly. We raised a few kids. We stayed in our area secluded. There was enough space for me to work, enough space for the kids to play, and enough space for my wife to spend her time. We lived peacefully. As the years passed I forgot about my mother. I gradually thought about Tim less. I settled into that new life in the place I grew to recognize. I took it all in. That delicious produce we grew. The smell of the fresh air. The loving sounds of my kids as they called out my name. I spent a lot of time looking at the woods. A lot of time not thinking about much else. I was caught up in a trance. Under a beautiful spell. And I felt pretty great so I didn’t think I needed to question it. It was a long time coming. I left.

I hadn’t been on the road in so long. I was transported back into the journey. I called my mother, turns out she died. My brother picked up the phone. I told him I would stay away a bit longer. He knew I was never coming back. He mentioned something about Tim, I wasn’t listening to him. I shut him out before I shut up the phone. I embarked again on the journey. There was something I was searching for, this I knew even then, but I’d no idea what it was. It would have been frustrating if there wasn’t so much joy which came along with it. I was complacent but I was alright.

I turned on to the next. Arrived in a small town so different from those woods in which I had just spent so much time. There was a seven-story tall building so I climbed to the top, it took me all day. I stopped and talked to anyone I encountered. I met lots of similar people who all did the same thing. It was slightly exhilarating. I spent the rest of the day and night in a small coffee shop thinking about my life. I took account of all the things I had. Not much. The clothes on my body. My car. The gas left in the tank. I tried to think of something I might be able to do, some place I might be able to go, but I came to no conclusions. It was slightly depressing. I wanted to figure it all out. Couldn’t do nothing. I sat there until the store closed and sat there overnight and stayed there for a day, then another, and another, and so on. Eventually I left, back out into that town. Realized I needed some clothes. Got a nice indiscreet shirt and some slacks. Got a tie covered in bananas and pink aviator sunglasses. I walked into the furniture store next door and bought a bed and a table and a dresser and chairs and a storage unit. I rented a caravan which I attached to the back of my car. The car strained under the weight. The car was old by this point, I had had it for many years. Its time was ticking, that much was obvious. I walked into a few other shops and bought some essentials. I headed back out onto the road.

I drove until the car broke down. Ended up in Vancouver. It was winter. It was cold. I ran into my brother in a grocery store. There was a woman near him, and some children crowded around. He looked at me directly but said nothing. He didn’t recognize me. I knew him immediately. I didn’t give him time for recognition. I left immediately. Went back into my car after shopping and drove away. He was headed in the other direction. I lived by the water. Visited Seattle occasionally. Got a job at a bank. I counted money day after day. My job felt obsolete. I waited around and waited around and waited around for something to happen. I think I was waiting for my own death. I had some friends there who I didn’t see often. I met them at work. It was nice to be around someone. They didn’t make me happy. I wasn’t sad. I didn’t feel much really. I enjoyed it most when I was home. I sat in my kitchen and looked out over the water. Sometimes I saw whales moving. Usually not. I didn’t see much save for the wind flickering over the waves which I really enjoyed. I liked knowing that everything was alive and I was just part of the occasion. I saw changes in the water over the years. It was cooler in summer and warmer in winter. The color shifted from a bright turquoise to a dull teal. There were less people on the beach sometimes. There were lots of boats which came and went. There was a changing of tides twice a day. Outside of my front window I saw the city in the distance. It looked so small. Inviting. I was there every day but I needed an escape no matter how small. I spent some time going up north, only during the day, and eventually returned as night fell. There was nothing strong enough to compel me to stay. It wasn’t a bad thing. I had to move on from there eventually as well. It wasn’t the right place for me anymore.

The road always pointed straight. It was reliable. It led me on. It was the only hand I held on to. The only thing to keep me company. I was nothing. I had nothing. I felt like nothing. Those days were so dull. Everything continued in a way that made it feel like I was just a piece of some equation I didn’t understand. I knew that no one really missed me. No one had attempted to follow. Not much time had passed, but so much had. I was beginning to get old. I knew that the end of the line will be there someday and I knew that that someday was approaching. I didn’t let it get to me. I arrived in the city of stars. No one knew who I was. I didn’t know anybody. I spent some days on the beach being haggled by strangers and approached by tourists. I didn’t talk more than a few words. I liked the sea. I didn’t like the people. I sat there closing off my peripheries and imagining that the whole world was out there and truly open. The illusion ended with the passing of a ship or another vessel. It was nice to feel so many people in my bloodstream. I felt them floating all around me. I could see myself acting differently. I understood what it was like to be in a truly social environment. I met a long of people who I’ve soon forgotten and forgotten some people I’ve never even met. I made my way up one of the mountains and looked down at all the lights, at all the people I knew were around. It made me realize I wasn’t alone. I lost my car briefly. Didn’t remember where I’d parked it. I thought it was stolen. I wasn’t really affected. I knew I would find it, I thought I might lose it, either way I was alright. I stayed for a few nights in the sand. Met some friends, stayed at their house. It was nice, they had a view of some hills, some valleys I forgot the name of. They seemed peaceful and content. I attended their parties. I was told they were infamous by a guy I met, I don’t remember his name. I was sleeping on the couch. There was a group of strangers sitting there. They moved. I lied down. They sat back on top of me. I woke up near the end of the party. The guy was still there occasionally glancing at me. I smiled back. I fell asleep. I woke in the morning. He was still there. He was their best friend. We had a real conversation. I told him where I’d been. He didn’t believe me. We went to the beach together. I stuck my toes deep in the sand, as deep as I could. He looked off in the distance. Clapped when the whale emerged from the depths. He held my arm and looked into my eyes. I could see there was something missing. He wanted something I couldn’t give him. He asked where I was staying. I told him. No, he meant permanently. I told him I was moving around. Would probably leave this town soon. He didn’t believe. Told me to visit him the next day. I did. I did the day after as well. I spent most of my time with him there. I left after about a week. He didn’t believe me. He said that he knew I’d come back. He told me he wouldn’t wait. I told him to accept what had happened. To embrace it. To let me go. Who knows.

I went to San Diego, spent some days looking at seals. I slept in a restaurant on a pier that also functioned as a motel. I was a nice place. I shared my room with five people. All with monosyllabic names and we shared one bed. I have never been that close to that many people again. We knew each other so well by the end of it. Each of us had such similar stories. They were traveling around, they couldn’t find any feelings. They couldn’t find any place to dig their nails into. They had been to many places similar to those I had been. Met so many similar people and we talked for a while. It was comforting to not have to explain myself, they just got it. We shared meals together. We shopped together. We walked around the city together, we explored. We met some people there and brought them back to the room, our group expanded to ten, and the bed doubled in size. These additions lived in the area. They had been to the pier many times, had been to that room many times. Apparently it always attracted the same type of people, they weren’t surprised to meet us. They had been there the week before, they had just started missing it. They joined us. We all paired up. I grew familiar with this woman who lived down the block with her husband and kids and dog and she said he let her have this escape, he understood that she sometimes felt cooped up. Sometimes the husband came. He had been to that room before too. Sometimes with her, sometimes without. It was a nice place. Moderately sized.

I left that place. Moved about a hundred miles back east. Was situated in the desert, all alone again. That was alright. I had forgotten how much space there was. How far someone could travel just to reach someone else. I decided I needed to go further south. Needed to try out another continent, maybe there I’d find what I was looking for. I ran into a coyote, we stared at each other for hours. I waited until they left then I headed on my way. I held onto my car, I appreciated it for all it had given me. I was looking and looking and searching and eyeing and peeping and looking across and devouring something of a material I was unsure of. I was sure I didn’t know anything. I was sure I had no idea where I was going. I was sure that I was going to find something out. Ended up where I needed to be. I knew that I must carry on, that was the only clarity. The only thing which kept me comfort. I had four other seats in the car for passengers who didn’t exist. I had so much space and so much time and an abundance of hope and love and reality and everything. I wasn’t content because I was still searching. But I knew I’d always be searching and I was content with that. I’m glad I was able to appreciate the peace of the moments. I’m glad I was able to realize that there I was, in that place, only for a moment, I took it in, I appreciated it, I let it sit with myself. I was driving on as the road took me. I couldn’t read the signs anymore, I had forgotten that language of communication. I spoke in a different way. I called my mom. She didn’t pick up. I talked into the phone for a while, I played it back for myself. I couldn’t even recognize the voice anymore. It sounded like my brother. I hadn’t seen him in a while. I put the phone away and carried on, went off into the distance.

I ended up in a small town for only a few nights. Didn’t meet anyone there. Just ate and walked and slept and ran away from anyone who tried to approach or converse with me. I just didn’t have the desire then.

Things were starting to seem familiar. I was driving along the coast. It was bumpy and rocky. I had so much time to spare. I saw nothing in the distance except for the continuation of water. I rolled the windows down to let in the fresh air. I sometimes saw our reflection in the water. I saw myself framed by the car. I pressed slightly on the pedal. I didn’t drive fast because I had nowhere to run. There was no finite amount of time. It was all set out in front of me. The road continued in the same direction. I looked for my phone but couldn’t find it. It just the car and I again. I came upon a huge ravine. A lot of people were gathered around this canyon which bore into the earth. The ground down there was so far away. There were lots of families taking photos. I was asked to take one. I took it. I watched as they all marveled over the site. I marveled over the site. I stayed in an inn nearby. It was summer and warm. The caretaker was kind. The food warm. I ran around all the empty rooms looking for views out over this pit. It was reassuring. Meant that I had traveled a great distance. Meant that things are sometimes too large to comprehend. The rooms had vast windows. It almost seemed like I was falling in. I was holding onto the cliff. I enjoyed being there because I could feel the force of the land pulling me in and because I dined with someone new every night. We only talked about the land, there was nothing else to talk about. I stayed there until the summer turned to fall. The cold weather changed that place. It wasn’t as inviting. It’s allure changed. It wasn’t for me anymore. There was something odd about leaving. Something I hadn’t felt before. I knew I wanted to come back. I thought that maybe I should stay. I was dissuaded by the current weather, but knew of what was to come once a year had passed. I knew I’d never really be back, but that was the only place I really yearned for it. Still, I left it behind. Moved on. Drove away.

Nothing struck me for many miles. It was the same again, landscapes slightly changing. It saw pretty cacti! That was a nice sight. I saw people traveling with me and people traveling against me. I didn’t see my reflection in the water anymore.  I arrived again in a town crammed together in the middle of a desert. The architecture was warming. There were people who were pleased by my arrival. In the grocery store I bought too much food. I shared it with all my neighbors. I was led to an empty house, told I could stay there, so I did. It was nice. The bed worked as a bed. I felt distant and connected. I had to leave there after one night. In the morning I hopped in the car, and left the rest of the food behind. It was too welcoming a space. I didn’t know how to receive it. I didn’t feel any distance from it for a while. It was mostly completely forgotten. It was replaced by a smaller town which I approached soon after. I think only thirty or forty people live there, they were entirely self-sufficient. They fed me and let me stay but made it clear that I’d have to help, so I did. It was pleasant and nice and repetitive. I liked spending time with them. It cleared my head out. We worked alongside each other during the day and went our own ways at night. I stayed with a girl, Cassie. She had a nice house. They all lived away from the center of town. Spread out in various directions. They were able to have all the space they needed. They could be together if they wanted. There was a house intended exactly for that purpose. For when they wanted to meet. They all had space and a room there. The food was among the most delicious I’d ever had. They grew it all themselves.

I drove on. Still moving. I always moved at the same pace when on the road. I preferred having less stimulation. I couldn’t move too quickly. When I drove I liked to look out the windows. I liked it when it was dark and no one was around and I couldn’t see nothing as far as I could see. It was just an emptiness out there. The streetlamps and my headlights allowed me to see the road, but nothing else. It made it clear what I should be concerned with. The road. The road. So much I had traveled. There was an amusement park but it was closed for the winter. I waited outside until somebody let me in. They were the owner and caretaker, they said they like to have a hand in whatever was going on. They needed to be a part of it to feel that it was really theirs. They told me they were scared of it being taken away. It was a grand place. They had many rides for all kinds of people. They were the biggest attraction in the area. He turned on all of the rides and all of the lights. I rode every single ride. Twice. We ate our hearts out. The food for the upcoming season had already been sent in. I was stuffed. He was stuffed. We slept in the mansion on the property. It was huge. Looked like the white house. Said it used to be a ride. Said he had converted it. Made it his. The park was silent except for the occasional bird. I saw a few deer. He said they come in in the winter, but he doesn’t kick them out because there’s no one to bother. He said it wasn’t a big deal. He said that you get used to them and they’re actually pretty sweet. We rode to the top of the ferris wheel and we were stuck there until the beginning of the next season. I remember the first kid running in and waiting to ride the rides. We rode down. He had to explain that none of the rides were opened, he had hired people from the ferris wheel, but none of them knew how to do their jobs. He had to teach them. He had a lot of fun with that. I left when he was explaining all this to the kid.

I watched all the lights as I drove away. Ended up in a big city with a big park a big population a big school a lot of shops. This city was welcoming. Ate the same thing on every street, it was yummy. Spent a lot of time examining the décor. The restaurants were all basically the same, the food always so good. I didn’t get tired there. I stayed up for nights which turned into weeks which turned into months. I met a guy who let me stay in his apartment but I never saw him. He traveled for work a lot. I only saw him twice before I left. I was there for a while. I heard the water running once. He was in the shower. Didn’t see him from behind the door. I met some friends in that city who showed me around. They took me to parties and concerts. I went to the park. There was a big replica of a famous building. It lost its entire effect. I was drained by this point so I headed home. In the apartment I had dinner. Saw some friends later that night. They never asked anything about me. They didn’t care about my story. It was a nice change. I had only been asked that for so long. And no one seemed to believe me. I was interested in learning about them, they were interested in talking. They had known each other for a while. Seemed to be best friends although they fought quite a lot. It was pleasant banter I think. They really loved one another. They all lived in one house. The food was good. So was the live music. There was an ongoing rotation of people who came through that space. Most of them they never knew. It was too many people, I knew none of their names. I just sat and eyed the scene. It was nice seeing all of it going on. I felt like I was part of a family. I thought about my cousin. Just for a second. The word “cousin” popped into my head, I thought another word ,“funeral”, and then I was brought back into the scene where someone had pulled out a harmonica. The music got too loud, so I left.

Entered a suburban development site. Three of the forty houses were completed. They were quite nice and furnished. One guy lived in one of the houses, he was the developer. He said I could stay in the other, so I did, for a bit.

I was sick of the newness of it all. I moved on. Back on the road. He gave me a cd, I hadn’t listened to music in my car for years. I turned the sound halfway up. It was just him talking for about four hours. He talked about his process behind developing the development. He went into intricate detail about all his choices. Brought up his personal life only when necessary. At the end of his discussion, three songs played. I didn’t know any of them. They were quiet and discreet. Slight hums which harmonized with the sounds of my long dying car. I kept the cd in the player. I didn’t want to take it out. I drove on. Missed the sound of his voice, so I played it again. I played it whenever I missed him. I drove for a long time without stopping. I would only stop for gas and would only get out of my car to push the nozzle in and pull it out, I would hop back in in between. The car felt safe to me. It was the only place I really felt I knew. I felt I needed to be there. It made me warm. And calm. I slept in there too, every day. I could look out the windshield up at the stars. I wondered if they knew how great I got it.

I arrived in a town that looked surprisingly familiar. It was fairly green. I was calm. I didn’t have any doubts anymore. I felt like I’d been there. I bought some land. Started a farm. I grew everything I needed. Built my own house. Built it exactly right for me at the time. I was able to spread out. I lost my wife. I didn’t have my kids. I had no one except for a dog I picked up on the side of the road. But I really wasn’t lonely. I was happy in the sense that I knew I was done traveling. I retired my car. Buried it in my garden. Watched it sink slowly into the earth. My brother and his family visited often. It was nice to see them. They lived a mile down the road. I started writing. I started watching tv and reading. I read everything I could get my hands on. The days passed by exceedingly fast. Time was moving, I was not. I could see a road in the distance. Only the road to get to my brothers. It was still the same one I had traveled on for so long. It still held on to my hand. It was there for me. I sat and moved and walked through the woods barefoot. It was nice to have real feet again. It was nice to not have to deal with anything except myself. I looked back at the road more than I looked back at my memories with people. Those were all so distant and ever fading, but I always appreciated them. They comforted me. I knew I had done enough, there was not much more for me to attempt. That was alright for once. Nothing had to be run from. Nothing had to be found. I had everything I wanted.