Journal Entry 1:
I never have given my car a name, which feels like a shame now. It’s not a car I’d buy if I had the money to buy one but it’s treated me kindly and it carries on the soul of my grandmother. She sold it and I bought it for half of what it’s worth after her sons had to finally tell her that they don’t want her driving anymore. There is plenty of emotion warped up into my grannie’s ’06 little Chevy Cobalt to warrant a name. But for now, it remains without one.
She’s taken me West of the Mississippi twice and only broken down once. This would be a good time for a metaphor but I’m not that good a writer. Both times I came West I owe to sickness which cannot be cured, tagged by Merle Haggard in the 1960’s as Ramblin’ Fever. A disease in which a man cannot stay in one place, where the settling somewhere unsettles and rattles the spirit, where one must up and leave for new territory, new horizons. And when one has it, there’s nothing he can do, save for head up and head on.
My first venture shorted my imagination awfully. I lived in a beautiful part of the country only to work 6 days and 70-80 hour weeks in misery, spending my off days in bed resting up and recovering. After I had taken all I could take, I turned in my two weeks and then drove out to California, up Highway 1 searching for something across the Pacific, the stars, God perhaps, the design of my own soul. We were delivered not.
I came back home to Tennessee after Covid hit, and I came back like a horse that had just been broken, beaten and straddled and sold, and rode hard and rode mean. I was in awful shape.
It took about a year before I accepted a job out West again, a couples miles off the Navajo Reservation basically in the middle of nowhere, in a desert so dry and without life, the prophets from the Christian bible likely used it as inspiration for writing about all those men being tested in the desert of old, and a desert so hot and mean, you can almost see the shape of the devil rising up and forming out of the heat waves. Or it is a mirage. But probably it is the devil.
I came out here to write Westerns but I’ve been unable to write for an equivalence to the biblical forty days and forty night. So now, all I do out here is clean toilets and make beds. I’m a housekeeper, if people ask me what I am, the answer is housekeeper. If there’s an art to it, it’s an art that has totally evaded my skill set. When my supervisor looks at the bed I’ve just made and says it needs to be tighter and with the quilt squares lined and matching and with proper dimensions between the pillows, all I can think to say is, Who gives a shit.
They say guests will leave behind hundreds of dollars in the Bibles but this has proven to be bullshit. Occasionally they will tip a few dollars but mostly what they leave is vomit in the trash cans, stains of shit and stains of piss on the toilet and bathroom floor, and a collection of pubic hairs in the tubs. When people ask me why I always take shitty jobs, I tell them it’s because I don’t ever want comfort as an excuse to quit writing. I often regret my life choices.
Sometimes I can see my own reflection in the yellow waters while I scrub the toilet bowl and I wonder what in the hell have I done with my life, if my existence in its entirety has been wasted.
When I first saw Audra cleaning a table after serving the customers breakfast at the restaurant, I wondered no more. Her murky and maple eyes seem to be globes of forests invented by Shakespeare and her long hair falls down her back how water falls down rapids at the Grand Canyon. Shimmering the sun, golden rays ringing off her black strands and when I first saw her, time froze and Michelangelo painted her and I stood witness.
I introduced myself and asked her on a hike, and I still remember the song that played in my headphones while I worked the rest of the day after she said yes. We climbed down desert slopes of the hike called Cathedral and talked about horses and baseball and sat and watched the mystifying and violent rapids of the Colorado score our conversation like concerto strings from the chorus of God.
We’ve since fallen in love, a love unparalleled by any other woman I’ve ever met. We’re going to live the rest of our lives together, a life I never pictured for myself.
I tell her that I’ve come all over for her, 2000 miles twice and even up and down the California coastline, and done come 28 years too searching for her. She says what took me so long.
I have negative thirty dollars to my name and I work a trade each morning and afternoon that I hate and when I hold her in my arms every night I finally wonder, of my life, how did I become so fortunate and blessed.