When we walked into the open jaws of the earth, I noticed a sheen of clammy sweat building between things — my shoulders and straps, my fingers and the brochure. Grubby and fingered-through, the way New Orleans feels all over. Even the new feels imminently used. That, and the going. Less the arrivals and more the heavy sighs of departure. More bender than first night out. Like you could live in that sweat.
The prefix to our journey was a two-hour run by the ocean, sweat turned into sand like gypsum in the desert. I wonder what it does to us, leaving all the time. Like sloughing off sweat, we don’t feel the absence — but I wonder if that means that bits of us are disappearing.
There have been so many stories, I find myself scrambling to capture them.
“Capture.” That’s always the word I use. I hate it, but each time I feel it in my mouth, there’s no room to replace it. Capturing, like Dorothy’s house spinning up into the sky, caught in the middle of the frame while everything whirls around it.
“You stayin’ or goin’?”
We’re going man, we’re always going, too tired, too unalone, too much planning, too much missing out on places deemed “must-see.” I feel less self than eyes recently. More full of stories and information than thoughts and emotions.
“We’ll get there next time!” I say.
“It’s been a lot!” you say.
My words have had no thoughts lately. I’m attempting to stop the questions because if I go too deep I might not be able to keep driving. Past the severed armadillo on the freeway. It’s the first one I think I’ve ever seen, and there it is split cleanly down the middle. Past the dead cat on the side of the road after Austin. Past the dead land we see as we drive through Texas. I’ve seen far more signs for funerals and cemeteries since we hit the turtle.
We talk in the streets about butchering words and I can’t seem to join in. I keep recording snapshots of people I see, as if these brief portraits in which I try to withhold judgement and state only facts will provide me more meaning than my interpretations could. The pastiche of people, creating some sort of quilt I forcefully tell myself means something – has some overarching understanding, or can somehow represent both the singular places and the more encompassing place.
They’re confused by my prefix. Not quite totally unfixed, but not really from from anywhere.
“You Irish?” I’m asked as I spray chemicals on my pasty legs to stop the bugs that are only eating me – my reply of “No, German” is met with disbelief. My thighs are too translucent and she says my hair is red. But saying I’m German felt more like a lie than it ever has.
I don’t feel like my California is too much a part of my prefix, until someone tells me I definitely have an accent, the accent that reminds her of an ex. Or when he says he’s never met someone raised in San Diego and it suddenly makes me feel special, or other, or like there is something off to be discovered. But for me, right right now, the city we were in yesterday feels like it provides the greatest foil. The comparison to understand the new place within. I call my parents and that feels more like home than Brooklyn. Returning to the car feels more fixed than anything after a cold night of camping.