An Ecstatic Return To Normalcy

Trip Start Jun 19, 2010
Trip End Sep 01, 2010

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Flag of United States  , California
Thursday, September 2, 2010

           DAY SIXTY-NINE:  It's our last day: 69!  Heeherheeher…ahem, sorry.

            It’s tough to gauge the overall attitude in the bus as we drive toward Los Angeles, since we’re all completely knackered and spent and have become largely British.  You get the sense that those with girlfriends are a bit more anxious to be back in touch with them, and those with no job or apartment or life waiting for them feel like they’re free falling, waiting for the ground to arrive.  Nevertheless, we’re not unhappy, and if anything we’re all quietly quite content for having made it this far: the map over the door, traced in all the different shades of pens lost, refound, and replaced, has come full circle, sealing off our itinerary, and someone comments that it looks like a dove in flight.  Perhaps, if you look at it in a certain way, with a full heart, it looks like Jon Bon Jovi doing a naked swan dive, or Mephistopheles giving Faustus his soul back on the Regis and Kathy Lee Show, but the truth is, it just traces our path and it’s really, really cool to look at.  I want to transpose it and put it on shirts; Shmark is very quiet, more so than usual, and when we first see the smog of Los Angeles on our approach, I swallow really, really hard; when we hit our first traffic, my eyes roll back and a guttural sigh bubbles up from deep within me; when we reach our first strip mall, the liquid within me turns sour for I am back home in this palace of concrete and plastic.  Everything is so familiar and sunny (this can’t be perceived negatively, I know), so artificially colored and stale (these can), and hell, what can I say, it’s good to be back.  Right.

            We head directly to Eitan’s friend’s place in Culver City, known creatively by all of our mutual friends as the "Culver City House".  I know all of these folks through Hiram Warbab so it’s a smooth transition, and they’re all curious and hospitable.  I take a shower with someone else’s soap while one of the residents, Cass, sets his camera up for as number of analog photos on the bus.  A few of them head down to the liquor store for evening preparations, while Cornbread and I stay in the bus, chatting about this or that, cleaning up, eventually working toward the preparation of the evening’s meal.  It’s decided that we’re to purge ourselves of all remaining food, including the mashed potato mix we’d bought in Quebec, so I have to join Cass to Trader Joe’s for some milk, butter, and whiskey (okay, the whiskey’s for me).  Our old busmates Tristan and Navin come from out of town just for tonight, and it’s glorious, man.

            Everyone’s started to drink, right, and one of the guys, Rhys, who I know from a hike some time ago, starts telling us how deeply he digs the bus idea and all of this, none of which is good for our collectively expanding egos, but good nonetheless.  He says that while in Brussels he read this entire blog in one night, or something along those lines, which is foolish and flattering, and I am being obnoxiously self-referential, now.  Another oil rig exploded in the Gulf of Mexico, damnit.  I was cursing Obama for expanding offshore drilling when he did it, and now what?  I mean, holy hell.

            Dinner goes as follows: spaghetti tossed with macaroni and cheese, with Frank’s Red Hot, soy sauce, honey, peanut butter, tomato, balsamic vinegar, a couple tins of tuna, layered with mashed potatoes, slathered in potted meat, garnished with avocado, and topped with one Jim Beam sunflower seed on top, just because that’s what it should have.  It’s called The Omnigratin, baked like a casserole, and the entire party digs in, and digs it.  McDonald’s is around the corner, of course.  Hiram arrives!  It’s great to see him.

            The party is a good one, though it gets loud, and we resort to piling everyone into Pearl, who is parked around the corner in front of a wash; there must be thirty of us in or on her, most of them on her, and Shmark and I play a couple of songs in drunken futility; no one is listening, and I feel bad for egging him on to do it.  The roof is buckling a bit, or perhaps that’s imagined, but in time everyone slides off and heads back home.  Many old friends from Italy are so kind as to show up, including Helga and her friend, Shayna, Deedee (and her sister, Kim, and boyfriend, Reynolds), Jasmine Wertmuller (remember her?  From Montana?  Crazy, eh?), and good old Cambag, he with whom I shared my room so many European years ago.  It’s pretty amazing to have everyone’s support, and we finish off the night in line at McDonald’s.  Yum, all over and over.
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