My Wandering Ways

luis

Got to move on, got to get goin', what lies ahead I have no way of knowin'. But under my feet, baby, grass is growin'. Got to move on, got to get goin'.

That's Tom Petty singing. It's a song that should be happy--the lyric sounds jaunty, and the music is a kind of country shuffle. But it's one of the saddest songs I ever heard. Perhaps because all my life I've had to get goin'. I had to move. I felt like a skunk trapped in someone's kitchen, and I'd scratch until I found a window. I think many people who tried to love me in those bad old days could attest to my need to flee.

Comes from poverty, no doubt. A restless spirit. The need for art and wandering when you're too poor to own a car. Caught in a world you can barely stand from hour to hour. This was me, in San Diego. What did Charles Bukowski say? At the corner of Terror and Agony Way? Something like that.

I wish I could call those lovers I could not love. Perhaps I try to send them telegrams in my books. I knew that I would come to ruin if I stayed there. And when I got the chance to flee, in 1982, I went to Boston and tried not to look back. I was in a world wholly new to me: the language was different. They said drinking fountains were bubblers. They said the corner market was a spa. Sodas were tonics. Things weren't bitchin', but were wicked pisser. At lunch, your sub was a grinder.

I walked those Bosstown streets like a maniac. I used to take the T to the end of the tracks, just to see what was there. Red Line to Braintree. Green Line to Chestnut Hills. I'd cry.

Now, Cinderella talks about my wandering ways. It's true--I had to keep going. I lived a restlessness that consumed me--driving maniacally all over America. I'd drop a 10,000 mile trip like it was a visit to the zoo. I started to know whole new sections of the country as if they were my neighborhood, and I had to go by them often to see what was going on. Do you know these spots? That sad trading post on I-40 at the base of a cliff? The one with plastic animals mounted on the rocks above?

The Glenwood Canyon section of I-70 where you swoop along the holy Colorado, and if you're lucky the mayflies will hatch as the sun comes up and it looks like it's snowing gold flakes only upward.

The abandoned stone house in Utah as you drive the back way from Green River to Capitol Reef.

The funky little flying saucer-themed diner down around Gila Bend. The artesian oasis on the north side of Tucson. Wounded Knee. Devil's Tower. That astonishing Virgin River gorge. The psychedelic road droipping out of Estes Park toward Loveland. The greatness and mundanity of I-25 as you crest Raton Pass. The Hatch cutoff.

I had to move on, had to get goin'.

Now I tour! I'll be in many places soon. I'll be looking for you. Let's have some coffee, compare notes. I'l have my honey with me!
L

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Anonymous (not verified)

The perpetually tinselled lone pine tree on I-20 just south of Shreveport. The jutting rock cliff off of Jacksboro Highway halfway between Fort Worth and Archer City.

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Book club members have been some of my most enthusiastic and careful readers. I’m thrilled to share my work with you, answer your questions and tell you some of the stories behind the stories. This is our spot, just for us. Here, we can chat:  If I’m nearby, I’ll come and visit your club. Otherwise, we can Skype, talk over the phone or email. Sometimes, I’ll send surprises or hold contests.

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