This trip, I noticed the highways jammed with broken heroes on a last chance power drive, as it were—presumably males of the species blind with the lust of the season not unlike the tarantulas I expect to see soon. My favorite stretch of road from the Guadalupes down to Van Horn was that jammed highway, impossible to avoid hitting them. I stopped to take pictures but they move remarkably fast, the living anyway. And I also then saw lots of birds along the roads that normally are unseen or seen not on the roads: many roadrunners, meadowlarks in the road, shrikes on the fence lines, all come to feast on the bounty. The land giveth. The land in monsoon season giveth absolutely.
Now imagine ten of them in the visible section
of road and that's how it was at times.
of road and that's how it was at times.
Yes, friends, another long weekend in Marfa. Where I too had a feast of a different sort. Always the food, yes. And fun. And now, more and more, the people. Stayed with Mary Lou and Chili and we performed our symbiotic dance: I encourage her to events and activities and she introduces me to her wonderful friends. I met Jim and Jim and Byron this time. I met Gory making me drinks at Maiya’s. Saturday I went to Fort Davis for their event and caught up with Bill in his living history outfit. I chatted with Dedie and Lonn who were taking it in from some folding chairs in the shade. I met a couple of camels and visited with their handler. Later I stopped in the Marfa Book Company and visited with RC and admired Alex's exhibit of photos taken on full moon nights; I was able to compliment Alex in person. That evening Mary Lou and I went to hear gubernatorial candidate Wendy Davis speak at a fundraiser. Got a spontaneous hug from Cindy and a warm handshake from Daryl. Saw Jean and Richard for whom I picked up an Ikea faucet some months back. Met Tom from the radio. Ate Krista’s delicious catering. Offered a volunteer day to Buck. Later, we walked over to a place with music and watched the stars. Because we were still hungry, we walked across the street and got a late night grilled cheez from Adam, sat outside and chatted with some folks. On the way home, we didn't see Marfa Lights but we did see Boyd Elder. Next day, we sat in the shade at the Marfa Lights festival and I heard about Joe L.’s recent vacation to big cities and complimented Joe W. on the fun event. We listened to music of Primo and Beebe on the stage. Later, walking home, I passed Primo and told him how much I liked his show. He smiled politely. Then I complimented his facial hair—best in west Texas—and I got a high five. I don’t know if there’s a word for it: a mustache that reaches all the way to his sideburns and is long. Oh look, a picture. So Primo high-fived me: cool. We finished the weekend with Chinese food and classic SNL on a bank of ancient television sets at another Adam food venture, the place that’s always closed…except when it isn’t. Saw some of the same folks again, as if I were a local or a regular. Like I were at home.
Not that everyone in Marfa knows me, at least not the real me—maybe my doppleganger. I had two different people in two different places mistake me for someone else they know. The man at the Get Go asked me if I was the woman from Lubbock? No? Well, let me tell you…And he told me a story about my twin from Lubbock who was hired by the city of Pecos to do a rebranding campaign for the city. Well, folks, if you’ve never been to Pecos there’s no need to start now. Though rodeo was born in Pecos, Texas, this is a town whose time has come and long gone. I believe “armpit” is the kind word that is used to describe Pecos. So this man at the store told me to remember this: no matter how hard or unpleasant your job may be, at least you don’t have to try and rebrand Pecos. That is kind of funny. I’ll keep that in mind.
And that yet again reminds me of identity, a topic on my mind this summer as it is an important piece of the new novel. And I’ve had a correspondence recently with a friend about this…probably me sorting out what I’m trying to write, and a little bit is my friend sharing thoughts from the vagabonding nature we share. So I read over the weekend an article in GQ Magazine about a man who lived 26 years in the Maine woods as a hermit with no human contact until he was finally caught in one of his regular non-violent house break-ins looking for food. The article’s author got to know him and interviewed the reluctant speaker in prison.
"But you must have thought about things," I said. "About your life, about the human condition."
Chris became surprisingly introspective. "I did examine myself," he said. "Solitude did increase my perception. But here's the tricky thing—when I applied my increased perception to myself, I lost my identity. With no audience, no one to perform for, I was just there. There was no need to define myself; I became irrelevant. The moon was the minute hand, the seasons the hour hand. I didn't even have a name. I never felt lonely. To put it romantically: I was completely free."
The author really didn’t buy that answer (GQ after all), but I find it to be completely profound. “I became irrelevant.” I think part of the vagabonding for me was this hackneyed thing, “to find myself.” Except that it’s true; I did. So did this hermit. I found myself and found myself to be light. He found himself to be irrelevant, which I can see the appeal: no need to define myself. But in the end I have decided against irrelevance. I wrote to my friend recently that what I crave now, in deciding to move to Marfa for presumably ever and following the writing, is commitment—which I think is the opposite of irrelevance. We become relevant because of people to whom we make a commitment. I am choosing to believe, in the end, that there is something more important than freedom. But I wouldn’t deny anyone the right to make a different choice.
It’s not black and white; we do a bit of a dance. To live among the stars, to live among people familiar and strange and rude and kind, to live between the leaf and the cloud, with grasshoppers on an August highway, broken heroes looking for love. Yes.
See Mary Lou's cool pix and her own story of our weekend here.