The Long Journey Home

“Who in this bowling alley bowled the sun?

Who made it always when it rises set:

To go at once both down, and up to get?” – Edward Taylor (1645-1729)

 

The desert sky was full of stars.

As the two drove in the big car through the night, they didn’t say much to each other.

It had been a hot day, hotter than the average days of the last few weeks, and they had spent it drinking cold Lemon Shandy and swimming in the complex pool.

Note Cards, held on the fridge by small magnets, saved for later works, read:

 

Take the desert and make it beautiful.

Take the names and give them weight

 

They had been sitting at home in the late afternoon, bored, drinking, thinking about nothing much.

The oppressive heat seemed to hold them down and evaporate away any shred of possible conversation. What could have been in those lucid and consequential moments.

On the road, they are young, and life is long, and the Spanish song playing on the radio in the car is going on about the end of time. The images of a life past lived, as if chronicled in some dusty book, seem to reflect off the rear view mirror as the lights of a passing car zoom by. The book closes, and the specter goes, receding into darkness, as the taillights move further and further away.

They had this feeling, deep down, that they could drive until the wheels fell off the car. Until the dark side of the city welcomed them.

 

“Most of it is trash,” she said.

“Baby,” there was a slight pause, taking in the joy of the splendid little moment.

“Let’s drive until the wheels fall off.”

He laughed.

“I don’t think it could be any other way.”

 

The depth of what they were trying to convey, although not explicit, was hinted at in gestures, in songs, in the speed that the car maintained on the highway.

 

“Sometimes I think about it all,” she said, “and, it’s a little overwhelming.”

“It make me sad some too.”

“So, what do we do?”

“I don’t know, what can we do?”

“_____”

 

They understood that whatever choices they made, whether it was together, or alone, that in the end they were still alone. The odds did not work in their favor.

They stopped some miles outside of Tucson, up near the western hills, and they sat on the hood of the car near the side of the road.

Out in the distance, coyotes talked with one another across the darkness of the landscape.

Together, they observed the bigness of the sky above them, and noticed that it stood in stark contrast to the locus of the electric city lights in the valley below. The city, methodical and tough, was becoming one with everything and the unknown.

 

“What do you want to do?” he asked.

“I don’t know,” she replied.

‘’We could go get some pizza and beer.”

“That would be nice.”

 

“There’s also the Red Room.”

“I like that place,” she said.

“Me too.”

 

They sat on the hood of the car for some time, feeling small, like the stillness of a quiet corner of a room, patiently waiting out the ordinary moments passing by. How sweet was life now, in their corner of the universe?

After some time, they both, without a word to each other, got up slowly and made their way back into the car, and drove into town.

The coyotes kept up their chatter.

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