The road isn’t long enough to forget what was before it came into focus. The road isn’t long enough to run away from being tracked and traced, chased and hunted down. The road wasn’t long enough to provide enough time between the start and the finish, with all the white lines down the middle of the blacktop in between to love and share and be with those I loved. If someone had told me in Los Angeles, at the start of it all, at the beginning of the road, that five years and six months later the road, Billy, the Girl, the beastie in which we rode, all hope, all that love and the journey would be over, and I would be sitting in a shelter in the toughest part of San Francisco with the Boy sleeping next to me, writing about the road, remembering, holding out a hand as if to reach out to Billy, but he would be gone and so would I, I think I would never have started. I know I wouldn’t have. If the devil’s bargin of escape would cost almost everything, would be so hard on those that weren’t strong enough and faltered and stumbled, on those who were not able to make it to the end of the road, if I had known, I would have declined the offer, I would have rather have died back there in Tokyo. I would not have left. But I did leave, I did go, I did try to make things better for all of us, and I failed. I failed. I failed everyone.
From the outside, it might look as if it is all the same to me, the days and the miles, the towns and the campgrounds, the little passion plays, the bigger picture. It might look as if I was willing to sacrifice others for my own survival. It might look like I am standing here, on top of the heap, Queen of the junk yarded people, the souls that could not take as much as I could, looking over the graves, the suffering, the discarded bottles, the bent needles of Billy’s destruction. I might look as if I am folding my fan, neatly snapping it shut to wander off playing Patsy Cline’s Crazy on a guitar that should not even be mine, to eat the honey and the milk and the warm melted center of life, comfortable and clean and safe and warm and loved, but I lost three quarters of my love. I lost the love of two thirds of my family, and I do not love myself. The horror! The clownish ridiculousness of that thought. I detest myself for surviving, as wound up in my Boy’s survival as my own is. As necessary as my survival was, it would have been better if I had just drifted away, choked out on the third floor of a Tokyo apartment while the television played some jingle and the monkey walked the dog. It would have been better. Kinder. Kinder to the children I loved. Kinder to the people that suffered around me trying to help me. Kinder all around. Except I wanted to live.
You see I have this deep seated selfish kernal within me. I don’t want to die. I want to live forever, through floods and fires, quakes and disasters. I want to outlive you if I do not love you. I want to outlive the world, and I want those I love to outlive it with me. I am terrified of death, of facing an angry G-d on my knees and sorry state of me having to answer for all the wrong I have done. I am terrified of not protecting those that I love. I equally would lay down my health and life to fight for those standing behind me. I have felt like a one woman storm wall, a single person hand upraised like some unwilling flawed and fucked up profane Moses stopping the waters and the tides, with just me between death and destruction. One wrong move of the staff, or my mouth, or my tongue that sits there unwillingly tied wanting to scream out of pain and unfairness, and it all comes crashing down taking everything with it. He never got a sound out of me. Not a peep. Not a groan. Not a yell. I gritted my teeth and set my jaw and lowered my eyes and withdrew into a place deep within that no one should ever have to go to while my heart screamed out for fear. What if he killed the Boy and Girl after me. It was enough. As long as there is someone to protect I will live..at least until I don’t.
If the escape, the journey only cost me an arm it would have been bearable. A leg? Withstandable. My youth. My freedom. My weak little ambitions and desires. If the escape just cost me $6 a gallon on the 101 north, or the wide open fear of driving through the hostile and beautiful Big Sky country, that terror that the clouds and the mountains would swallow me up whole. If the escape could have just cost tire rubber. Uncomfortable nights in the parking lots of mega stores. Terrifying truck stop sleep breaks with a cacophony of terrified cows mooing in a frenzy, going to the slaughter as I was driven towards mine. Nights where cougar padded outside my open camper window while the basic part of my brain screamed out in mortal fear of being eaten by a cat. But it cost me happiness and hope almost fulfilled then shattered. There is nothing so cruel in this world as false hope. If it cost me disappointment. If cost me thinking I had it then the illusion being ripped apart. I had found what I was looking for: love and support and respect, and safety for the Boy and the Girl, I had my freedom. There was a thousand miles of black top in front of me, and then that again and again and again. But there was a nail in the rubber. There was a leak in the line. There was a fly in that healing ointment. That fly was sometimes me. Sometimes him. Sometimes politicians. Sometimes cops. Sometimes random people who thought they could impose their hatred and tiny reptillian minds upon my days that were so precious and so few. Oh, how I wish that for those five years I didn’t talk to anyone else except the Boy and the Girl and Billy and a friend or two and just stared at the love that was, before it had to be put in a box, buried and gone. Love on life support. Years on the run. Don’t answer the phone, dont answer the door, don’t answer the question. Lead false trails. Avoid being tracked and when it caught up with me snapping at my heels, biting at my door, threatening my freedom, my children and more than that – snarling down phone lines, getting on planes and heading right for that intersection of road where I sat, and I had to swing that Beastie around and flee for the mountains or the forests or the swamps and the campfires, heading down another five hundred miles, the trains criss crossing the roads, the fork going left or right, the lakes and the mustang, the buffalo and the gas stops with their lost people trapped in little lives that could never be mine, who asked me for news from the Great Beyond from where I came, when I had to run again, I ran. I ran and I loved it. I put Michael Stipe on the stereo, I closed the windows as he sang about excuses and being worn out, and I held onto my can of sprite, my travel mug of hot liquid, the hands of my family, the love that was and then was not. The people that were. Then were not.
Who did the world think I was? Some two bit Nikita wannabe, sneering at the border guards and the little men who would have seen everything destroyed out of dedication to a uniform inhumanity? Some slugging prize fighter able to withstand 260 pounds of man smashing me over the head with a chair, as the peanut throwing crowd cheered from outside the ring? Sugoi! Subarashi! Ganbatte baka-chan! Bleed baby, bleed. Did the world think I felt nothing? Who cares. I am no Nikita nor do I want to be. The affairs of the world matter little as it collapses around me. I do not have the capacity to worry about the bigger picture. I tried to maintain an active disinterest, a posture of defiance, declaring that i did not have a political bone in my body, until that caught up with me too in some strange B movie cartoon offering of danger. It doesn’t matter anyhow, it is all the same to me. Want me alive, want me dead, want me fighting, want me suffering, want me prostrate, want me rising, want me to dance a jig while I am left emptily promising my self control was perfectly intact? Want me on my knees? Want me on my back? Want me want me want me..don’t want me…It doesn’t matter much to me. I do what I will anyway whatever happens to my body, my soul is my own, so the world can suck it, honey. It is one of the benefits of getting older now, I am looked on with mostly pity and distaste, not lust or desire to own and control. I almost like it, except I am tired and sad, and life has been and gone and left me disappointed.
Except the Boy. There he stands in the distance back straight, eyes kind, head turned away from the wind and the rain and the suffering of it all, solid, standing tall, uncomplaining and gentle, yet strong and defiant. His mother’s son to his father’s shame, and the love the love the love that is is enough for me.
The feedback whistles in my ears as I try and recapture a moment of a day that was, the feeling of the hands, the soft looks, the small smiles, the hungry faces tearing into discounted dollar fifty dry pizza as I watch on content from my post in the co pilots seat, sneering at the tourists while we tried to live in a Washington parking lot in a 26foot RV, no money, no hope of a shower, stealing toilet paper from public bathrooms and paper towel from grocery store cleaning stations, the rain coming down in sheets, dripping through the gaps in the roof, the beds wet and moulding, the radio blaring out a man who tells me that I need all of this, and the weenie crew do wheelies, like a soaked town’s jugglers and clowns, sending the spray flying and their wheels squeaking, and Tiger the junkie who lived in the alley near by asks me for a hot meal, declining my last sandwich and a cup of tea. It was exactly what I needed, however much it hurts.
My road is ended, I’ve lost my driving wheel, but they can’t take my memories from me.