Pardon Our Restlessness: A Trip Around the Nation

I’m second-guessing whether the crooked clock in my office has both a tick and a tock as two young girls loudly brainstorm how to pay for their tits, promising each other that they’ll call Dr. Zorga for a consultation tomorrow. Together. Why has the modern office setting decided to knock down the cubicle walls, and how can Gary tune all this out and manage to keep his glasses from sliding down his nose, all the while maintaining a steady cadence in the way he eats his shelled peanuts? It’s enough trying to block out the harmonizing buzz of the air conditioner and fluorescent lights, but now I wonder whether Gary picked roasted or salted.

If I were asked to itemize office daydreams, the top answer would be; lying on the beach of a tropical island, just like Corona advertises–“Miles Away From Ordinary.” All the while located on another ordinary beach.

But when I daydream, I daydream about almost buying yayo from a homeless man in an alleyway in Austin. I daydream about getting in a fist-fight with Mischa on the streets of New Orleans; watching the newlywed Mr. and Mrs. Turner walk down a hallway of Tennessee sparklers in Bedford, Virginia; counting Mississippi seconds in New Jersey of how long Sarah can hold a handstand; sitting shotgun as Hilary guides us to shoot Nico’s .45 through the backwoods of Middlebury, Vermont, and, in the very same day, watching her mom dance to Telepopmusik’s “Breathe” with no shame.

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© Sarah Bourscheid 2014

Sorry if we’ve been weary, daydreaming in class, staring out the window, smiling and laughing to ourselves. Pardon our restlessness, even though we’ve sat in a car for days at a time.

We didn’t expect any of this. We hardly even planned it. More times than not, we didn’t know where we were going or where we would sleep. We were curious, but it was spontaneity that killed the cat. Each day was it’s own surprise. There was a span of 24 hours where we experienced three different east coast dialects between New Jersey and New York, the leftover pirate-speak of New England, and the overemphasized vowels of the Midwest. Friends, family, and strangers opened their homes and hotel rooms to let us crash on their spare couches and open floors. When far from the welcome mats of kinfolk and kind folk, we slept in the car sitting up or in a campground we weren’t supposed to be at.

We were living in luxury. Four bodies and a cute puppy crammed in Sarah’s small, unwashed Honda Civic, sleeping bags, pillows, and blankets spread out like deployed airbags. We lived on a daily dime, eating family dinners out of the trunk of the car, from gas station mashed potatoes to squishy grapes and back-of-the-pantry cookies from our previous host.

Driving itself is just as romantic. When you decide to take this trip, detour through random back roads of Alabama and stick your head out the window, just as the sun gets ready to stick hers back in. Breathe, but don’t expect to relax when you’re white-knuckling through balls of hail, snow-slushed roads, and the assholes populating traffic in New York. Trust your car, the one with the 1.3 four cylinder brave enough to rev against thunderstorms and a red eye drive through South Dakota and Nebraska. Remind each other to wear deodorant, but be gentle. Stop to smell the roses.

Say hello to our friends in the desert past the Salton Sea– the rockstar, drunkard, convicted felon, and skateboard-luging champion, Poppa Jimmy, who will be sure to show you his skin-graphed tattoo. Or Pancreatic Bill, manning the Slab City library through the deep summer heat, even though doctors gave him six months to live. Say hello to the taxi driver in Texas who laughed at Hilary’s short cowboy boots and boasted about his home-cooked Southern barbeque. Pull off the road in Opelousas to watch Chandler shoot arrows at turtles and frogs from elevated train tracks. Say hello to Em, the quiet transvestite in the corner of the Ivy League dive bar, because she’ll give you good advice on love. Say hello to the competing brass bands in New Orleans, the two dollar martinis, six dollar pitchers, and the young man they call “G,” who watches jumping fish and electric eels where the levees broke in the lower ninth ward. Or the homeless man, James, looking to bum a smoke, who will tell you about the snake in Alaska that spits flowers into the sunset. And if you find yourselves in Lynchburg, Virginia, look for the broad that stole my afro wig and kindly ask for it back.

And you expect me to come back to Gary and Dr. Zorga’s fake tits, knowing that the next day is going to be the same as today. I’d trade in my legroom to drive through thick thunderstorms, I’ll sleep sitting up.We had freedom to roam–to discover. We touched 30 states, covered 7,958 miles, and all in all spent 22 days on the road. But the memories, those are countless.