I am remembering driving home in heavy rain in a borrowed car in the darkness of the early morning, after leaving eBay for the very last time. I didn’t say goodbye to anyone. I am remembering talking to a friend from the parking lot of a Glendale grocery store after my Denmark job went bust. I am remembering writing my final feature after years of work, telling my weekly readership that I was moving on to “bigger and better things.” I am remembering driving home from Caldera the last time, having lost everything I understood in my life and being stuck in the Wasatch Front corridor traffic, nothing to look forward to and nowhere familiar to go.
I am remembering driving Donner Pass on the way back from San Francisco in 1999. It was the most impossible thing I’ve ever done… I don’t know how I faced it. I don’t think I was ever that lonely before or have ever been that lonely since. All those trees… and no idea why I was bothering to go back. I am remembering driving out of Los Angeles in 2000, hopeful and confused, not realizing that nothing was going to be any different — that a ride across Nevada in a tow truck was going to be one of the highlights of my year, rather than anything that would meet me in the valley metro. I am remembering sitting in a bus station in Austin full of uncertainty and confusion, waiting hours for my bus to finally leave, knowing that I had three days of solitude on the plains ahead of me. That was the second most impossible thing I’ve ever done… and by the time three days were over, I was a completely different person. I am remembering laying on one of the worst motel beds ever in a coastal town called Brookings after listening to Mazzy Star on the road all day, looking up at a ceiling fan spinning, spinning… I was a one-man universe unable to do anything but sigh in the stifling, muggy air of late summer.
I am wondering what it will be like to remember leaving Chicago.
Why are so many of my most important memories so similar? And how do I get so lucky that they are all made alone? No, that’s a stupid question. Of course they’re alone.
Five years and all I really remember is how it felt to jump into my car suddenly at seven in the evening and run — to drive all night like a maniac at a hundred miles per hour, unable and unwilling to think — and then how it was when I got to the ocean’s edge and realized that I still hadn’t run nearly far enough — that maybe I never could — that the early morning Berkeley fog couldn’t hide anything from me. Five years and I don’t really remember anything else.
It’s funny, and just a bit sad, to see what remains in the end.