I. PART ONE
the infinite landscape
in the desert, the speed limit is as high as the temperature. i was yearning for something unfamiliar and a mindset just on the verge of deranged lunacy. in the mojave, that wasn’t hard to achieve.
my hatchback was our craft. four friends and i packed in. i couldn’t see out the back, but it was insignificant. i was high on coke, from what we thought at the time, and my only worry was having enough cigarettes to get us to big sur.
we aimed for three and left at five-thirty. not bad. the coke helped push us along. after a few lines, we were neurotic and anxious enough to forget the forgotten and get in the car.
we had it all. cocaine, acid, mushrooms, pot, norcos, adderall, beer and a lifetime supply of cigarettes. my car, uninsured. we started to drive. the plan; food, gas, a carton of cigarettes & pulling a heist at rei. the goal; spending the night in big sur.
we went frantic food shopping at my work. we rapidly filled a basket like coked out locos. chris was working. he looked at me and his eyes reflected omniscience and suspicion. my dilated pupils confirmed his belief and he shot me a glance of appreciation. the kind that holds, “i know what you’re on…”
we got in the car. we got on the one. the raindrops washed us through windy roads onlooking steep faces of death. it was big sur, blurring the line between feeling more alive than you ever have and its inverse. the rain forced us to put on that empty sort of tripped out music enhancing the undertones of doubt that stuffed up the car. too many substances, cigarettes and full hearts draining empty. each had their own set. minor slides reminded me of the potential bad ending this trip could have. but luckily i had enough cigarettes to forget with every puff.
we kept driving. the night was thick and the lights neon. they blurred and ran and i kept driving. i pulled out a marlboro red. at this time, i was converted to cheap cigarettes by a friend. i grabbed the black lighter and lit the stick. it caught aflame and i inhaled the act of moment making. it remained in flames. i blew it out for another inhale only to have it resist again. this inhale of marlboro left me choking.
i lit it backwards. i was smoking filter. this was the most intense and peculiar ‘flavor’ i had ever experienced. it was truly the most horrific cigarette of my life. although, we’ll see what the future holds. the drip of insufflated substances lost the battle against this flavor. the taste of uppers was only a ghost now. i scanned the streaked highway for the next gas station.
i can’t smoke marlboros anymore. i’ll smoke anything else. anytime. anywhere.
i am forever cursed. limited via a doped up road trip. no more can i accept the gracious gesture of a stranger passing the baton of a free stick to me with no fear of what breed that cigarette is. at least, i met virginia slims on this trip.
bakersfield. motel 6. room for one. we made room for 5. after security guards induced mass paranoia, we decided to smoke a joint and drink some beers. this would be the third substance of the day. i got too high and the motel 6 lived up to it’s name. three on the bed. two on the floor. i didn’t sleep that night.
i woke up. i stepped out of the dark hazy room and walked to the edge of the perimeter. an abyss lay before me blanketed in misty heat and smog. the particles of air were visibly at war. jack in the box, subway, carrows, dennys & java detour. the american life.
the rest woke up. i ate a pill. more driving. coffee stop. he got my drink wrong but everyone else’s was right. it was okay. bakersfield is an armpit and we flew out of there. the road was promising. we headed into fields of sand, mountains and windmills. the landscape begged for ambient psychedelic jams. atom heart mother. pink floyd. remember a day. remember this day.
we stopped at a diner. 20 mule cafe also known as the middle of nowhere. but to some, this was somewhere and everywhere. i didn’t eat. i wasn’t hungry. i used their bathroom for a boost and watched my friends eat horrible food. standards were different here. it was refreshing. they had nice water and nice straws. our waitress was beautiful and i was curious about her life. we were all feeling strange on this day. a little apprehensive. what’d we get ourselves into? handfuls of hours away from home and the horrors it held, it didn’t feel wrong. but it didn’t feel right either.
no one finished their meal.
a flyer for a thrift store named the mothership was spotted. intrigued, we attempted to pursue it. after flying 10 miles down a paved road, we came to a dead end. our only option was continuing into the sandy oblivion or the neighboring trailer park. we pulled a u-turn and hoped it was the other way. it wasn’t. we got back on the highway…