Walking across the US
You can’t imagine how much I want to do this. I actually know someone who did. A friend of mine who had been a CO in the Viet Nam war & who didn’t try to go to Canada but instead did official service in a mental hospital in New York. This was my banjo-playing friend from my hitchhiking days, the one I talked about in Oh That Magic Feeling. He used to sing this song he wrote called “Mary Ann,” I still know it, which was about one of the inmates, who, he told me, looked fairly normal but was one of the craziest people he had ever met, she would be going along & suddenly would get a weird tic & start screaming obscenities, but it wasn’t just Tourette’s, she actually believed the stuff she was saying. Anyway he put in his time at the mental hospital & when he was released from duty he felt like he had been one of the inmates himself & to clear his head he started putting one foot in front of the other & didn’t stop until he got to Santa Monica.
Although Mark was a hitchhiker, this time he didn’t want to have to keep turning down rides, so he walked on the other side. It took him around 4 months walking 25 or 30 or so miles a day. He got to be a mini celebrity, someone wrote an article & there he was in the picture, with his RedWings & his bindle, somewhere in the middle of the country on some dusty road.
I feel like I need something like this. I’ve put in my time living in this house, which started driving me insane about 5 years ago when the neighborhood started to change, starting with crazy house across the street. I’ve been waiting for a good time to sell, but I ask myself every day, WTF are you waiting for? Well, it’s going to be hard enough to leave without ending up feeling ripped off besides, so I keep waiting until I can get my money back, which won’t be long now. I can’t get back the heart & soul I put into this place, but no one ever does. I’m willing to exchange it for a bunch of expensive & hard-earned lessons.
First lesson: If you wait long enough, not only will things not change, they will get worse. I mean this in the most Buddhist sense. Anyone who has ever gotten out of a bad marriage knows that it never starts out like a gaping bleeding hole in your jaw. It starts out as a mild pain that seems totally tolerable. You never get it yanked at that point; you wait & wait until, well, you get the picture.
I remember the day they all showed up ready to break ground on that house. I was looking out the window watching them all milling around the property. That was the day I should have stuck a For Sale sign in my yard, but I thought waiting would fix something; at this point, I’m not even sure what or how long that might take.
Second lesson: Actually, there is no second lesson. The above was the only one, but I’m getting a lot of mileage out of it. I’ll say it again: Waiting solves nothing.
I keep asking myself: What did I think was going to change? Well, I guess I thought some nice neighbors would move in, ones who would be friendly & have more than 3 teeth & want to be part of the neighborhood. I never did get my wish. The current owner has, from what I can tell, more than 3 teeth, but has proceeded to treat the neighborhood like some kind of charging station for his bank account, just I’m An Arrogant Prick & I Have Paid to Be Here. His sidekick waxes rhapsodic about how there is “Too much beauty not to share” back home in Hawaii, & yet the two of them have left what amounts to a large steaming pile in front of my house. Thanks a million, you fucking assholes. So glad that gleaming white-sands- beaches thing worked out for you, & so glad no one showed up & took a crap right in the middle of it. Glad we could be of service.
Lately when I’m out hiking with my dogs the impulse to keep walking & never turn around is so strong I have to stop & breathe. How tantalizing that silence would be, dry empty air, darkness at night, nothing but the sound of my own footsteps & my dogs next to me, no choices to make, not even direction, just keep going east until there’s no more land.