On the train en route to the airport Sunday night, as we're slipping out of the Portland city limits, Val says offhandedly that we should create a 'zine about our travels, noting that whenever she, Monique, and I go anywhere, our days seem to be focused on walking and eating. It's funny: I've just been chewing on the same 'zine idea, likely because of our trip to Reading Frenzy earlier in the day. It seems like something worth considering further.
But then, once we're in the air, I start reading Dream Whip (#12), this brilliant chunk of paper and text written by some guy in Texas (I think his name is Jeremy). He writes (literally, as in hand writes) about his travels around the US, focusing on the prairie states, and his words manage to be both uplifting and unspeakably sad at the same time. And I realize that he's captured the heart of being on the road, of being in an unfamiliar city, of both wanting to keep going and wanting to return home.
An excerpt, this one called Borealis:
'We stay up late watching the Northern Lights. I say they're just city lights reflecting off the clouds, and she points out that there aren't any cities out here, near the Badlands of North Dakota. The lights are dim and blue, something between smoke and starlight along the horizon. It's like some chasm out there, the place where summer goes in September, all those sunny days and citronella candle nights being incinerated on the horizon. In the morning, I crawl out of my tent while she sleeps in the tent next to mine. It's still summer this morning, so I put on my shorts; the sweet dregs of summer, sad seconds and thirds, hand-me-down days from June and July that are well-worn now, faded and fraying. I take a walk along the ridge line. That girl doesn't love me. And even if she did, I still couldn't stop. I'd keep moving as fast as I could, which isn't nearly fast enough. I'd go as fast as the sunlight if I could. And when I finally made it home for a visit, it'd be 10,000 years later, because that's what happens when you go that fast. It'd be 10,000 years later, and there wouldn't be anyone waiting for me, because who could wait that long?'
I read that and think, sure, we could write about our hundreds of mini-adventures, our moments of frustration and being lost, of stumbling upon things we hadn't expected, of knowing when we've reached the point at which we're ready to go home. But could we get to what all of those things are like when you strip away the surface layers, when you finally understand what they really mean?
I think Jeremy's gotten there long before us.