Today is my dad's 59th birthday. He's been less than twice my age for 11 years but has been married twice as many times.
I made it back home last night in record time despite having to wait for construction work in The Middle of Nowhere, Oregon. I am beginning to think the little stretch of freeway that cuts through the sun blanched and desolate, south eastern corner of the otherwise vibrantly green and well hydrated state is not patrolled by any law enforcement; I got the white Subaru up to 125 mph on a nice long straightaway. It has never rained in Oregon on my drives, but ironically it almost always has in Nevada, a state that immediately brings to mind images of lone and level sands stretching far away, cow skulls and buzzards. Never lightning or thunder, things I have started to miss lately, but a heavy, yet brief, shower that washed the bugs off of my windshield.
I am not normally a crazy driver or even a fast driver, although the car does have a lower center of gravity due to the design of its flat engine that enables it to handle sharper corners at faster speeds than vehicles that compete in the same class. I don't have any reason to explain why I felt the need to push the pedal so far down to the floor other than I was bored with driving. I didn't get a rush of adrenaline or an excitement boner or anything.
I picked up a hitch hiker on the Pacific Coast Trail who said he hadn't talked to another person in over a week. His name was Greg and he had a dirty blonde afro and a huge backpack. He smelled like he had been out in the wilderness for a week so I took him at his word. He had started the trail a month or two ago, I can't remember which, but he said he was going to end up in Washington and go back to school. School is cheaper up there, according to Greg, and he was interested in completing his degree in bio-medical engineering.
I mentioned that the neighbor kid was doing the same thing (bio-medical engineering that is, not hiking the PCT) and that he was interested in designing hearing aids that would be implanted into the brain. Greg said he wanted to make replacement joints, for, like, knees and stuff. Ah, I replied, the Orthopedic side of things. Orthopedic, I knew, meant something about bones and it made me seem better informed about the subject than I really am. I can usually hold my own in small-talk medical-type conversations, although I once made the mistake of asking an orthopedic surgeon what dental office he worked for.
I had to roll my windows down for a few miles to air the car out after I dropped him off at the next town. He was pretty grateful for the ride and walked into the little grocery store I had stopped in front of like a desert straggler stumbling upon an oasis.
I tried to remember little details of the drive so I could practice writing. I've meant to write more and have recently had the time to do just that.
Someone told me years ago to write every day even if it wasn't any good, just write something, he said.
I don't know if it was good advice but from what I hear about him, he knew what he was talking about.