After making the decision to head for home, I still had to actually do it. The lure of being out on my own and seeing new things every day had been tarnished somewhat by the loneliness inherent in such an endeavor, but had not gone away completely. I still enjoyed looking out on new towns and new landscapes. I still felt the tug of the roadside sign announcing some locally, or even nationally significant event that had occurred on this spot, the faded remnant of a drive to build such aids to group memory, along with roadside picnic tables and sun shelters. I still liked to listen to the accents of the folks in minimarts and gas stations, realizing that the minute I opened my mouth I was the outsider. “Come from far, do you?” was the most common question. My answer never failed to get a big response. Massachusetts is the other side of the world, I guess, when you grew up in Sublette, KS, Colville, WA or Keyes, OK. It’s not that these people had litte understanding of the world around them, it’s just that they had not had the great influx of tourists or college students that, say, Napa CA, or Eugene OR has experienced. Without a chance, or a desire to travel much themselves, they have been less likely to hear someone from MA who is not speaking in the TV version of the Baaaston accent.
But finish this thing I must. After a couple of days in the Albuquerque area, I decided to just book it on home, after visiting relatives in Dayton, OH, highways all the way. With plenty of books on CD, I hunkered down to the highway and sped east. I was missing a lot of what I came out here to experience– small town life on the back roads–but I look forward to another trip, with Lena next time, and chalk my shortcomings up to overreaching and under-achieving.
But hey, I got in almost 9000 good miles, so it’s not all bad. The trusty Chevy turned out to be a good companion and my almost 40 rolls and 30 sheets of film will keep me in the darkroom for a while. I have almost 1000 iPhone images for reference, at least three paintings worked out in my head and a few more swirling around in images that won’t go away but are not yet ready for composition. I hope to be very busy this winter. I am also ready for time with my wife, my friends and, at the end of the day, my own bed. I don’t think I’ll drive much over the next few weeks if I can avoid it.
I started this blog with the idea that it would be a way for me to sort of think out loud…well, electronically at least. It has been written in motel rooms, on picnic tables and in my tent. It has not benefitted from any editing, and is therefor filled with far more trivia and poorly constructed sentences than readers should have to bear. The fact that some have borne it and have followed my travels both astounds me and makes me quite grateful. The sense of an audience, no matter how small, has provided a sort of companionship for me. In the end, I’m not sure that I got lost, but I lost a lot of the retirement anxiety I was not even aware of having.
As Americans, we are often chided for our tendency to seek the “geographic solution” to personal problems. “If I move to ________, I’ll be able to start afresh!” Maybe I’m guilty of seeking the same thing here, but I think this was more about the process than place. Traveling, photographing, listening, watching; these are all processes that change what and where we are. I’ve tried to absorb as much as I could in the last 6 weeks, hoping that some of it would sink in and help me grow as an artist and as a person. The proof of the pudding, as they say however, is in the tasting, and the final outcome of this adventure may only be evident in my work over the next year or so. I hope to stay in the habit of posting- but with far fewer words and more pictures–the fruits of my travels and my efforts, both photographic and painted. I will probably start a separate website for it all, with a different format, but anyone looking for the work should google whiteymorange occasionally. There aren’t too many of us out there.
Thanks again for listening.