Monday, April 23, 2012

Road Trippin' With River, Days 1 & 2: We are a Crazy Breed.

Tonight the moon over Atlanta is a silver sliver, a Cheshire cat grin. A winking luminous celestial portal cradling its dead dark mass. 

The temperature tonight is half of what it was when I left Haiti Saturday afternoon. My body is out of tune. I have been gone for two months, the longest I have ever been away from my son. I flew in from Port Au-Prince late Saturday and picked River up early yesterday. Starbucks for coffee and we headed North East on an 8 day road tripFirst stop Birmingham, AL. 

Being back in the states after a month and a half in India and 2 months in Haiti with only a week in between has left me a bit disoriented. I am not as anxious as I normally would be as I will return to Haiti by the 2nd week in May, but I feel so disconnected. Although I am so very thankful for espresso on every corner and smooth roads. 

Birmingham is very familiar to me. In the 5 years I had my vintage clothing and record/book store I came here once a month on buying trips. I'd hit all the big thrift stores and most of the small ones. This morning River and I went to a few. Our best finds today were 25 cent paperbacks. Harriet Jacobs Incident in the Life of a Slave Girl for me and Asimov's The Robots of Dawn for River.

Fitting I suppose that I should be looking so far back and my son so far ahead. Who sees farther I wonder as we pull out of the thrift store parking lot. Will men be slaves to machines before we stop making slaves of each other. Only God knows. We leave Birmingham a little after ten and head to Atlanta to hike Stone Mountain.

Being on the road with my son is amazing. Conversation is sheer wonder. He spontaneously quotes Tom Stoppard as the Georgia state line slips by unobserved. He monologues from Rosencrantz and Guildenstern Are Dead.

"We're more of the love, blood, and rhetoric school. Well, we can do you blood and love without the rhetoric, and we can do you blood and rhetoric without the love, and we can do you all three concurrent or consecutive. But we can't give you love and rhetoric without the blood. Blood is compulsory. They're all blood, you see."

He then goes into a heartfelt and affected rant about a store we had went into called Earthbound Traders. They had paraphernalia and other mystical and pagan implements. He says "Dad, that place really bothered me. Even the name. It was like.." 

"Self-fulfilling prophecy?", I say.

"Exactly" he says and then with a sigh repeats, "earthbound." He turns to look out the truck window and thoughtfully quotes part of Isaiah 51:6 "[T]he heavens will vanish like smoke, the earth will wear out like a garment..."

We are listening to the soundtrack from the movie Into The Wild. Eddie Vedder at his intimate best. The song "Society" resonates with me in a way very few songs ever have. I have listened to it 5 times today already. I sing it like a prayer.

Oh, it's a mystery to me
We have a greed with which we have agreed
And you think you have to want more than you need
Until you have it all you won't be free

Society, you're a crazy breed
Hope you're not lonely without me

When you want more than you have
You think you need
And when you think more than you want
Your thoughts begin to bleed
I think I need to find a bigger place
Because when you have more than you think
You need more space

Society, you're a crazy breed
Hope you're not lonely without me
Society, crazy indeed
Hope you're not lonely without me......

(Pretty please watch the video below and listen to this song!!!)

We get to Stone Mountain around 3 and it is gorgeous weather that touches upon Grace itself. If I had a dollar for every time River said "wow" this afternoon I'd be a rich man. But I am richer still being paid instead with the candid, spontaneous exclamations of my son's worshipful awe.

River stands silent and wonder-filled atop Stone Mountain.
Half way back down the mountain a sight so out of sorts stops us in our tracks. We are both so disgusted by the human stain. This particular monument to human laziness and disrespect seems a perfect summation of that.

On the power poles that feed the Skylift atop Stone Mountain hikers have stuck gum from the ground up to as high as they can reach. There are three poles that are covered. We walk on in silent disgust. I am thinking of all the things that come out of people's mouths that soil so much. The lasting stains of ill spoken words, the denigration and character assassination of lies. We are a crazy breed.

Back at the hotel we are making plans for tomorrow. That is I am making plans and River is playing samples from otherworldly instruments, both archaic and futuristic. Some stand alone as art without even sounding their utterly fantastic music. Do yourself a favor and spend an hour looking and listening to Bart Hopkin's amazing creations

Tomorrow we are visiting the birthplace, the grave-site, and the church of Martin Luther King Jr. before heading North to Chattanooga. MLK is one of my heroes and I am so eager to make these connections with him, and to share them with my son. Hope you'll come along.

It's almost eleven here now. River is settling in. His nightly ritual of sci-fi has begun with an old episode of Stargate SG-1. The couple in the hotel room next to us are hurling epithets and accusations at each other. Unscrupulous observations of each other's maternal pedigrees. We truly are a crazy breed. But I am far away. I am thinking of Haiti, her sea, and her soul-mending sunsets. Thanks Bob and Darin for the picture of tonight's sunset in L'acul.

Til tomorrow then...


  1. Listening to Eddie Vedder and reading this has me itchin to go on a roadtrip!

    (p.s... what a wise son you have)