I have some of my deepest realizations about life while driving down Interstate 5 through the middle of nowhere. The endless vineyards and cow pastures create a perfect backdrop for finding true meaning in the character of raindrops and asphalt.

I hadn't slept well in three days, and exhaustion was beginning to overtake me. I'd done this enough times though, that falling asleep wasn't a concern, or even an option. My poor body has been beaten and abused into accepting a state of "too tired to fall asleep," and thus were these sleepless midnight journeys possible.

11:32pm and 300 miles left to go.

I'd just come through the Grapevine, I stopped at a truck stop Panda Express for dinner. The mushroom chicken was passable; the fried rice was simply terrible. My fortune was bland, vague, and ultimately meaningless, but the cookie was good.

The monotony of the road has a certain rhythm, a groove, and I found myself singing along. Emotionally drained, emotionally numb, emotionally hopeful, do emotions even exist anymore at this hour? Maybe they are just a dream, maybe this all is.

There is only one vivid dream that I can recall having more than once; and recall more than five minutes after waking up. They aren't all the same, these dreams, but they all revolve around the idea of all my teeth falling out.

Once, I burnt my arm, in the mountains of North Carolina. I had been drinking, heavily, and the idea of burning my arm seemed rather reasonable, something about a girl and a drunken phone call. So I burnt my arm. I held a torch to my skin, I don’t know for how long. I woke up the next day with a rather nasty burn on my arm, the wound oozing blood and pus. Two days later, arm wrapped in bandages and antibiotic ointment, I met a man. I told him about the arm, and how I burnt it. He told me that if you ever have dreams about your teeth falling out, it means that you are afraid of commitment. I told him that the dreams with the teeth falling out were the only ones I seemed to have.

He put down his cigarette, in the ashtray at the Denny’s in Shelby, NC, and he put his arm on table. He pulled his sleeve back, revealing a neat line of third degree cigarette burns, connected with red lines of infection running up and down his arm.

“Except I was sober,” he said.

It’s getting late, I’m getting tired, and I think I’m almost home.

I pull into a gas station, the one I always stop at right before the meat rendering plant. Noticing the price, I cringe, and watch my checking account dwindle as my tank fills. 11.56 gallons, I really should have stopped sooner, the last thing I need is to run out of gas out here tonight.

I drive my car to the onramp, and a slow moving semi truck is in front of me, taking his dear sweet time merging. I pass him and bang through all 5 gears, praying nobody comes up behind me as I wish my car faster. The adrenaline makes me alert for the next 10 minutes, like coffee, but without that horrible anxious, meth-addict feeling that coffee gives me.

56 miles to San Francisco.

I’ve done this drive too many times. Who the fuck is some stupid dream to tell me I’m afraid of commitment? I used to drive down that road every weekend, to see that girl, the one who got sent to the mental treatment program in Utah, where they hoped to cure her depression, delusions, and slight heroin addiction. How is that fear of commitment?

I saw her this time, for the first time in a year. I think that’s why I went south this time, but I’m still not entirely sure. She isn’t any better; in fact, I think she’s worse than before.

Maybe I was right for running the hell away.

When I got home, I barely made it in the door before passing out in my bed, exhausted.

That night, I dreamed it was summer.