The thing about just hitting the road and not planning ahead is that you have to be prepared to be stuck at somewhere that is not your destination. You have to be willing to be going for days on end. Life is a journey, yadda yadda yadda, but if I am to be honest, I want to be in control of where the actual journeying begins. I’m not much interested in journeying to the journey. I was ready to submit myself to the searing blue skies of New Mexico, where I knew we would be eating world famous enchiladas, shopping for beautiful pieces of turquoise jewelry made by real Indians, making bad jokes about manufacturing crystal meth (one of our favorite shows is “Breaking Bad”), and hopefully having a transcendent O’Keeffian experience or two.
All a way of saying that we left San Francisco after a single night. Did I already mention that the main reason we stopped in the Second Hilliest City on earth was to see my daughter, who was a freshman at the University of San Francisco? We did. We glimpsed her. In between class and rehearsal (she was performing in the spring dance concert) or rehearsal and a party or a party and a required viewing of some dance performance in the city. She graciously wedged us in for forty-seven minutes because, I suspect, she missed her dog.
Lolita Gordita is half blue heeler and half Australian cattle dog. She is a good dog, even though she endures a life of genetic conflict: the blue heeler side wants to herd from back and the Aussie side wants to herd from the front, so she spends most of her life running around us in circles. To have both of us stuck in the RV, within six feet of her at any given time, allowed her to relax for probably the first time in her life.
Here she is on her spot. We could say, “Lola, spot!” And she would jump up and settle in.
We left the city about ten a.m., heading south to Bakersfield. It was great to be off that hill(s) and on the road! We had some old Beatles tunes playing. We had some coffee in our Go cups. We had In ‘n Out Burger to look forward to. Then, technological disaster struck. My smart phone (an HTC Evo-4G, for those of you interested in such things) started rebooting itself randomly, of its own free will. Within an hour, it was rebooting itself every time I pressed a button. This would not have been a big deal, except that unbeknownst to us and for whatever reason, the email server the Man of the House maintains in our basement at home had also failed. Meaning: even if I had been able to get to my email, I wouldn’t be able to get to my email. Not that I was expecting any email.
Reader, am I the only one who has become an insane smart phone addict? We were tooling down Hwy 101 on our way to Gilroy (the Garlic Capital of the World) and the panic I felt when I knew I would be unable to use my phone, to access my email, to Google Gilroy (why was it called the garlic capital of the world?) was as ridiculous as it was real. My anxiety translated into a fear that everything in my life was going to fall apart immediately and irrevocably because my phone was on the fritz. The universe somehow knew that I was unreachable, and would orchestrate it so that my daughter would suffer an emergency and need me; my agent would be calling with some boffo, but limited, offer; the MacArthur genius grant people would call me and, not being able to reach me that second, give the half a mil to the next person on the list. The stupidity of my anxiety cannot be overstated. I’ve travelled through India and spent weeks on a dive boat in the waters off Micronesia and backpacked through Europe at a tender age, when the only contact I had with anyone were the letters I did or did not pick up at the American Express office in Rome or Paris or wherever.
I’ve never been a fan of the phrase “it goes without saying,” because obviously if it goes without saying, then why am I saying it? The proper wording should be, “I wish this went without saying, it should go without saying, but, alas, I feel the need to say it anyway, because otherwise you might miss the point.”
These idiot phones are ruining our lives. Happiness resides in being here now. Every spiritual leader and a lot of old hippies know this. It’s why we go to yoga and resolve to meditate. It’s why everyone I know who goes camping for more than 48 hours is clam happy until the exact moment they come back into cell phone range. These phones may make our lives easier, but they also rob us of a boat load of joy. I’d checked my email that morning, for God’s sakes. I was driving down the road with my man and my dog, listening to great tunes and looking forward to a tasty cheeseburger. I was healthy. My kid was healthy. I had some money in the bank. I was heading toward big sky New Mexico to have a transcendent O’Keeffian experience. Could life possibly get any better? No, it could not. And I wanted to share this great revelation with all my friends on Facebook? Could I? No I could not.
Once we got to this place, I felt better. We bought a half flat of strawberries and a braid of garlic.