The Magic of the Open Road
I slept in my car on the top of a hill on the outskirts of Albuquerque last night.
In my head, I was somewhat worried. The guy I met (and partied with) at Marble Brewery was cautioning me against it.
Where does this fear come from?
It’s like the phantom “boogie man” of my childhood still exists.
My first attempt at finding a spot was a fail. On my second, I drove through a neighborhood up a street that led to nowhere. I found myself on top of a hill on a round-about, overlooking the whole area.
I pulled off the round-about onto some gravel off the paved road.
That’s when I got all paranoid:
Maybe I shouldn’t have pulled in head first, the front of my car facing the bottom of the hill.
Maybe I shouldn’t roll my windows all the way down, in case someone comes by and stabs me.
I was certain that the neighbors were listening at 2am and only heard a vehicle go up the big hill–not down. Surely, they were going to send a search party to come get me.
I brushed my teeth in the cool New Mexican air. I felt free.
After getting the windows rolled down just right–i.e., just enough to keep me cool, but not far enough down where someone could unlock my car and/or stab me–I crashed hard.
I woke up to the stifling New Mexican sun. I did my best to sweat it out and somehow stayed mostly asleep until 9am.
So, what happened last night?
Well, I rolled into Alb. after 800 miles, 19 hours of driving, two cups of coffee, a 5-hour energy and 3 cat-napping sessions at gas stations.
I got a “tip” on the best taco truck in town, so I went there. Sitting along the railing (with what looked like her bf) was a woman who looked almost exactly like my ex; it was even more surreal because she was also from New Mexico.
I kept glancing at her from my seat because it was really screwing with my head. Same body type, very similar face–but this woman was darker; not in skin tone, but in personality.
What made it even more weird is that I found her glancing at me, too. Maybe she is in my soul group. You’ve heard of that idea, right? That there are several people that we keep “meeting” lifetime after lifetime after lifetime. Needless to say, I didn’t go talk to her.
The venue was a very cool spot. Huge outdoor, covered area and a sound stage where a band called, Pink Freud was about to perform. Upstairs chill area. After talking a while over a chocolate stout-like beer, the guy who I was talking to bought me a beer.
I went out to check on my car (since it’s packed up with all my stuff), and it was fine. But I was so tired that I somehow managed to fall asleep in the driver’s seat for who knows how long. Steve was still there when I got back.
We decided to check out more of the night life of Alb.
I went to my first club in a while. At some point, someone poked me (!) on my back. It was a younger woman. And though I didn’t like the poke, I didn’t mind the attention.
She’s like, “let’s go get that old guy” (talking about the guy I had come with, but not knowing we came together).
Yes… not old yet, I thought to myself!
It was so cool when this chick went over to dance “with the old guy.” He really appreciated the attention from a much younger woman. She did a lil booty shake for him and it was all over–but his perma-smile remained the rest of the night.
The people at clubs are so different than in my generation of clubbing. It used to be very competitive, with men hoarding around women, peacocking to get their attention. Lots of bumping into people, trying to box them out to assert themselves in the pecking order and dance in the proximity of the hottest chicks.
Groping women, non-consensually. There was none of that here! It was so refreshing to experience. Women were not being harassed.
I was hoping that Steve was going to invite me to stay over at his place (as I really like to be comfortable and car-camping isn’t so cozy). But he didn’t. My buddy Greg called, and he told me that I’d be fine.
Back to the next morning…
Again, I woke up and it was hot–oppressively hot.
My white privilege apparently doesn’t help me in this department.
I found some shade to brush my teeth, packed up and hit the road to Santa Fe so that I could get there on the earlyish side, since there’s some big event going on today, a fiesta.
My GPS told me that Highway 14 N. was the way to go. It was a beautiful stretch of road through this incredible land: brown, hilly, with splotches of green bushes everywhere.
I cracked open a can of Coconut Water to rehydrate from last night’s drinking. It helped me wake up, too. After 40 mi. I see the speed limit slow to only 20mph. I was going through the town of Madrid–one of the cutest little artsy towns I’ve ever seen!
I see “cafe” and decide to stop in, equipped with my laptop (from which I’m writing now). This is where I share one of my neuroses: I take a long time to pick a spot to sit at coffeeshops.
The sun was still hellish, and even in the “shade,” it was sunny, so I ended up on one of two wooden tables inside. Two older guys, probably locals, are playing chess next to me, staring intently at the board.
I ordered a cup of coffee and a slice of blueberry pie that looks homemade.
After moving tables five times–no lie–I am seated at my table, beginning to write. A woman is walking out when she says, “Whoa, nice eyebrows.”
Both of my eyebrows are white, and my hair is still (mostly) black, so it’s often a feature that complete strangers stop me and comment upon, usually quite favorably.
Her name is Gwendolyn. She has lived in Madrid for 22 years. With her son in college, she tells me she just took a 3,100 mi. road trip in her Toyota Camper. She’s a delightful human being, and we instantly connect and talk about life, the future of humanity and great places to see in New Mexico. She has a radio show, so I get her info, and I share my blog (and an article on the rise of the useless class with her.
She was telling me how magical her trip was when I said, “Hey–check out the title of my new blog post.” I was literally writing when she said hello.
The magic of the open road.
She, of course, loved it!
What’s beautiful about being out west (for an east-coast guy) is that the landscape is so open you can see for miles and miles in every direction. My whole being can relax here in a way that I’ve hardly felt anywhere else.
I reached out to a friend on fb (whom I’ve never met) to find out she lives in Oklahoma and is, more or less, on my path east. She invites me to come and stay with her–and cook me food–tomorrow night or whenever I end up getting there. A ten hour road trip.
Yes! I won’t have to car-camp tomorrow night.
I may even get a shower.