Springfield to Champaign. Champaign to St. Louis. St. Louis to Paducah. If you’re not familiar with the Midwest, lemme stress that this route is insane, and it passes through Springfield twice before eventually arriving almost accidentally in Kentucky.
But that’s the nature of my life and the Greyhound bus.
Tonight I’ll sleep in Murray, KY, starting a profoundly new mode of living that I decided on overnight. Unlike Cassidy Gordon, I haven’t dreamed of any of this. Instead it’s like many of life’s great movements: a little bit of spittle that you coughed up in a whoopsie and found something strangely powerful in.
I’ll be working for Paschall Truck Lines, a company that delivers mostly on the east half of the U.S., as well as inexplicably San Francisco and southern California. To my friends in Kansas, Colorado and, sadly, North Dakota, I will have to say farewell for a while. That was a hard decision to make. To the rest, I may be seeing you from time to time. PTL allows any rider over 18 years old, and you’re all welcome to come aboard sometime.
I still don’t know what I’m doing and I still can’t take myself or this completely seriously. I visited Columbia this weekend, and I was touched by all the people who shook my hand farewell and expressed their jealousy that I somehow knew how life worked outside the lines, as if I weren’t literally traveling the most beaten paths in the country. Why it is that people see the one guy who fled journalism to go longhaul trucking as knowing what he’s doing is still far beyond me, but I suffice that it’s something to do with breaking very powerful nonexistent rules that gives me the illusion of being an interesting person.
Of course that’s a sham but it gives me access to people who are truly interesting: prostitutes, drunks, felons, SEALs, politicians, pilots, plumbers, crazies, freeloaders, finger-pointers, smokers, teetotalers, and all the other whacked out psychopaths who are trying nothing more than to survive but are accidentally making America something to be vaguely and incredibly proud of. These are people who are down and out, who are starting over, who are clinging to their identities and leaving immaculately tiny footprints behind them, just like you. They live in motels and truck stops and city halls and halfway homes and in bivouacs, tenements, stucco houses and in the bedroom across the hall. From time to time when I meet these great villains I will bring them onto here in written snapshots. These are my Polaroids. This is my favorite lens.