pages fly away 79

Trains passed by the Western Hills Motel in Flagstaff all night long.  If you couldn’t hear the whistle and the clacking of the wheels on the rails, you could feel them vibrating through the wall.  I was up at six, not quite ready to give up the comfort of the bed so quickly, now that I was close to home. 

I turned on the TV and the Today Show was on, all the guests facing each other with broad smiles and exaggerated emotions.  In between, were commercials for Botox and various pharmaceutical drugs, the reality of the present world, not the imaginary past that I’d just come traipsing through, or the future, which would probably just get worse.

There wasn’t much connection between people and nature anymore, and very little with other people.  These days everyone is star in their own universe, with their social media and earbuds.  Liking and sharing, two of the kindest actions a human can take have become debased, meaning something more akin to conquest and propaganda.  Were there some hurt feelings involved?  Sure, I’d always hope to get the respect that comes with recognition, but I’d been living in my own personal Siberia for so long, even that didn’t matter anymore.  The only way to escape crushing anxiety was to fly to the moment, expand on it, fill it full of meaning and wonder.  Easy on a road trip, harder back at home.

The news came on.  The anchors and reporters were all polite, earnest, civil people, quick to break into laughter when the opportunity arose, yet able to put on a pained, mournful face when discussing a more somber topic.  They were saying the reported cases of COVID were higher than ever.  How long would this go on, outside of the rest of our lives?  I’d seen little evidence of it on my trip, just museums that were closed instead of gift shops and places where they still required masks.  What they were predicting was a new variant.  How many of those could they spin into eternity, knowing that they’d learned how to shut the whole world down inside of a week?

A light was beginning to show at the window.  I could hear another freight train throttling past and the skimming by of cars out on Route 66.  There were birds that began to chirp, as a commercial came on.  The Cardinals had a home game coming up in Phoenix.  Then there was something regarding the magic of Christmas and a third one plugging the Disneyland Resort in Florida. 

It was an age of miracles we were living in.  It was possible to be happy all the time.  Take your medication, go to the game, buy presents ahead of time, and then go on a big vacation.  What about money?  Well, it didn’t hurt to dream.  Start small.  Get a job.  Open up a savings account.  In the meantime, put it on a credit card.  You could always pay for it later.

There was a fire north of Phoenix a at Tesla Repair Shop.  It was deemed not accidental.  It had accelerated and spread too fast.  They had a dog there wandering through the debris.  The moratorium on evictions had also ended.  Thousands were facing evictions.  Across the country that number was even higher.  Up to fifty-thousand people could soon lose their homes.  And what was this latest breaking news?  The coach and general manager of the Cardinals had just tested positive for COVID.  How would this impact the game? 

The toilet had been running all this time.  I finally had to get up and jiggle the handle, but doing so ruined my concentration.  The whistle of a train blasted so loudly then it seemed like it was in the next room.  I went and opened up the door and was nearly blinded.  It was an immensely bright day. 

Once the car was loaded, I decided to cruise through downtown before hitting the road.  I’d put almost fifteen thousand miles on the car.  It was hard to imagine that going over well when I returned it.  What could I say?  It was bad enough the last time when I’d returned a rental car that reeked like salsa.  The guy had gotten in to check the mileage and come out with his eyes watering. 

This time it would be more like tears of rage, that is if he was in any way invested in the company.  I was hoping that they wouldn’t notice.  Fat chance of that.

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