My back is sitting against three-foot brick wall outside of an Applebee’s in Albuquerque, New Mexico collecting notions from the various voices inside my head. They’re all screaming in silence at the top of their lungs, yet my hands don’t tremble, my heart beats softly inside my chest, and I can’t figure out why I’m not stressed to fullest extent of my naïve 24-year-old life at this particular moment.
Perhaps its because the clouds in the sky look like a painting that’s been in progress for the last millennia; like every single stroke of an omnipotent brush has been carefully placed so that this particular moment at the corner of Hotel Circle and Lomas Boulevard could occur.
As I take a deep breath and scratch my legs from the grass that has gently nestled itself between the hairs on my skin I look to Sandia’s Crest. This is the peak of a New Mexican mountain top decorated with jagged rocks that have yet to be worn down by that omnipotent brush of time that disciplined so many of the Appalachian mountains over the millions of years that wind and water have passed over their crests.
It’s hard to imagine that one day a million years from now, these beautiful jagged rocks stained with the shadows of floating white paint blotches will eventually become just as tamed as the mountains that I’ve been so used to driving through on family trips from Memphis to Philadelphia and back.
Like in all walks of life, nothing so beautiful can possibly come from the weak, lethargic energy that seems to plague the current state of American society. As the sun begins to set and shadows start slowly creeping down the ridges of Sandia’s Crest, the voices in my head gradually stifle themselves as my own stream of conscious thought grows louder with every word I type onto my laptop.
These people driving past me outside of Applebee’s must think that I’m either insane or some lazy coffee shop stoner panhandling for an easy $20 fix to pass the time. “Look at that weird guy pecking away at his laptop. He looks like some Pee Wee Herman wannabe trying to score his next jerkoff from the free public wifi.” At least that’s what their eyes say to me as they pass by creating a hundred moments awkward eye-contact.
Still. I am still. These strangers’ stares can’t inhibit my happiness. I’ve found my center and it’s never felt more invigorating. My father, sister, and I embarked on a cross-country road trek the day before yesterday.
FUCK!!! A GODDAMN FIRE-ANT JUST BIT MY LEG!
I guess that’s par for the course considering that’s the kind of day we’ve been having. We woke up in Santa Rosa with every intention of experiencing the “Big Blue Hole” that the locals swear is the most beautiful thing to be seen for miles until the endless skyline visage that becomes the Grand Canyon in Arizona.
I really wanted to see it actually. I’ve been getting into photography more and more over the past few years as I’ve been learning to appreciate the natural beauty that life provides us with. Really, I’m just a broke college student that can’t afford a beer at the bar, much less a date to care of; so photography gives me a sense of controlled creation. Plus, I’m a horrible artist. Seriously, I’ll muck up a stick figure if you tell me to draw a self portrait.
Nevertheless, back to the “Big Blue Hole” that all the locals and tourists seemed to rave about. It’s an ancient attraction that’s drawn millions of visitors over the years. It’s a divine diving destination, a photographer’s watercolored wet dream, and a place that you can throw your kids into without paying a cent unless you want a souvenir…at least so I’m told.
We never did make it to the “Big Blue Hole.” My sister’s 2002 Subaru Forester toting the smallest Uhaul trailer available with two pieces of a solid metal bedframe strapped to its roof broke down at the busiest intersection in the small town of Santa Rosa. We know it tore a timing belt. We think it threw a rod.
After three of the nicest police officers I’ve ever met checked on us and somewhere over seven good samaritans asked us if we needed assistance, we finally got AAA to tow us and the Uhaul trailer to Bozo’s Garage and Wrecker Service. I don’t think I’ve ever met anyone as nice as these people. Being a native Philadelphian that has grown up in Memphis, I’m just not used to this kind of philanthropy from someone without ulterior motives.
But to my pleasant dismay these guys really helped us out. After a gut-wrenching $700 tow truck ride 120 miles from Santa Rosa to Albuquerque, we managed to find a hotel near a Subaru dealership. We were also told that we got “one hell of a discount” because the usual going rate for tow truck services is about $5 per mile, plus a $200 fee to “hook up the trailer.” You do the math. There were three towing services available in Santa Rosa, and Bozo’s was the only one that used AAA discounts. Otherwise we would’ve been charged $150 just to get from the intersection we broke down from to the local mechanic that’d take a week to fix the vehicle.
By the way, I forgot to mention that my sister “MUST BE” in Santa Monica in three days for a meeting with her guidance counselor, else she faces the possibility of not receiving financial aid from her school. Once again, we being the “lucky dogs” that we are, she managed to talk to someone at her school that could still disburse her money needed to pay for her housing. We don’t come from a family of opulence. We hardly make enough money as a family to scratch the surface of what opulence is. I’m just thankful to have a room that I split with my mother and step-father’s office furniture. My father makes a good living as a Subaru salesman (the irony), but he pays so much to insurance companies, medical bills, and mortgage financiers that he can hardly enjoy his empty house.
I’m not looking for sympathy. We all play with the cards that we’ve been dealt. I just wish that I didn’t have to bluff the people living in glass houses. For every single possession that they have, I feel a new need to follow my own path that takes me away from material items. I can only imagine the showers that they take in those glass houses. I wonder if they’ve got pulsating jets that massage the stress away from their complacent lives. I’m just jealous.
I’ve always had my best ideas in the shower. There’s just something almost spiritual about washing one’s self. We wash away the dirt from our necks, the grime from between our fingers, and we pour away the stress that fills between our tense muscles so that we can fill it up again with more of life’s daily struggles.
The sun has just about fully sheathed itself behind another New Mexico mountain, but my mind continues to race like the lights of an open shuttered time-lapse of traffic in Times Square. I’ve never been able to turn it off, and I’m beginning to give up on reasoning with voices that keep me awake telling me:
“Get to work!” “Live every moment like it could be your last!” “You need to get a white collar job!” “Fuck me!” “I need help!” “You’ll never make it!” “If it starts to feel like a job, quit it.” “Play the game!” “Don’t play games with me!” “I love you.” “Let’s just be friends.” “Where are you going?” “What are you doing?” “Can I trust you?”
It’s getting harder and harder to figure out which voices are my friends and family, and which ones are my desires and conscience. At this particular moment, I’m simply coerced to live my life one sunset at a time. I just think I’m lucky enough to be able to enjoy this one outside at the corner of Hotel Circle and Lomas Boulevard in Albuquerque, New Mexico.