We are waking up in a 14-dollar Wal-Mart tent, spring of 2006.
We are waking up in a 14-dollar Wal-Mart tent, spring of 2006. We are in Carlsbad New Mexico. Armed with roughly 400 dollars cash that should have been used to pay down debt, we set out in our overloaded, over-used 1999 Honda CRV to find adventure, romance, and answers that are found in the open road. We had canned beans and hot-dogs for breakfast. This is our first road-trip together. This day was one of my happiest because I was too young and too stupid to be less happy.
For some damn reason we decided to make our living as freelancers in the Houston, Texas film and video production community – a town noted for its lack of film and video production. We functioned flawlessly on cigarettes, Hot-Pockets and coffee. We worked insane hours on movies, commercials and TV shows, staggering from paychecks to bills to freedom to work and back to paychecks. To debt. Our car worked or we walked. We ate meat when we were standing fat and we ate ramen and corn-dogs when accounts were thin. If we were sick, we went to the county clinic. We tried not to be sick.
I can’t really tell you why, in the midst of of our considerable poverty, I decided we needed to see the road.
I can’t really tell you why, in the midst of of our considerable poverty, I decided we needed to see the road. I think maybe it was because our life was hard but I wanted my tireless wife to see an open sky. I wanted her to see a hot-spring. I wanted her to eat a Stuckey’s chili-dog at seven in the morning. I wanted her to see something other than our toil.
She wanted nothing of the road, of course. Typical of her generation, and mine, a road-trip was an awful, joyless, tense thing. Perhaps you’ve been here? Yelling dads, folding maps, red eyes, timetables, luggage, mayhem, etc… The road is where unstable marriages went to die. The road was for truckers, trash, hobos and gypsies. But just I knew we would find ourselves out there.
Though most marriages are, to varying degrees, run democratically, there are times when one partner issues a solo pronouncement and the other goes along with it – hopefully out of trust, sometimes out of indifference and most hopefully never out of fear.
In one month we are driving to New Mexico and camping in Carlsbad and that’s that.
I had tried to get a road trip bill through our personal congress with no success, the measure killed by many filibusters and amendments. She had her reasons and they were valid. However, I realized that (for once) I was totally right and I’d have to go all executive order on this matter so I said, “In one month we are driving to New Mexico and camping in Carlsbad and that’s that.”
“Fine,” she said, “We can be gone one week.”
That trip changed everything.
We communed with aliens, soaked up the stinky waters, learned how to be tourists and natives, gazed into the void, and came out different people.