Thursday, August 15, 2002

Ah yes, being alive again.

It was a slow going process, and I don't know how long it will last, but I'm enjoying being somewhere that I haven't been for a while.

The City of Hope.

All of us have one inside us, bustling and vibrant, populated with inhabitants that jubilantly echo the city's mantra, "You're going to make it!" Each one of us has a unique road map that leads to this elusive city. No two people take the same path, but everyone travels it on their own. Of course, we are allowed to ask for directions on the way, but ultimately we must find our way to Hope on our own. We are all born with it, but some of us wander into the surrounding woods and get lost in the thickness of the branches. Disoriented, we wander with our path shrouded in darkness and every turn we take seems to lead to nowhere.

I think I may have found Hope again.

And I'm enjoying being back. I've settled in nicely in Baltimore and have already applied for three jobs. Since I've been here for a total of four days, I think that's pretty good. I know that I'm in the honeymoon period of relocating, but it's my attitude where I've noticed a big change. Depression hasn't paid me a visit yet, and I'm optimistic about getting back on my feet financially. Basically, I'm optimistic about me again, and that feels great.

I believe that driving across country was a great experience for me to have at this time. My two cats and I traveled through California, Arizona, New Mexico, Texas, Oklahoma, Arkansas, Tennessee, North Carolina, Virginia, Washington DC, and Maryland. The landscape was incredible. Arizona provided everything from a Mars like terrain with red desert dirt and rocks that spread across the horizon for as far as I could see, to pine and grass covered hills. The land baked under temperatures that topped the 120 degree mark, but we stayed cool in the car with shades on all windows but the front, and the air conditioner cranked up to maximum. The Honda's temperature gauge held its position, never moving above it's normal running point. At one point, I was so taken by the colors in the Arizona desert that I pulled over and picked up as many rocks as I could find that represented the beautiful colors that I saw. It was 115 degrees outside at least, but I was roaming around in the middle of nowhere, and I mean nowhere, my feet crunching on top of the red rocks as I picked up stones. I wanted the real thing so I could know the colors in case I ever decide to paint the desert, and also to have something so spectacular created by nature. Breathtaking, literally.

I made a short side trip to the see the Meteor Crater, a mile wide impact crater in the middle of the desert that formed almost 50,000 years ago when a meteor slammed into earth. Amazing that they considered this a small impact compared to some other craters known to be on earth.

As I neared the grassy hills, a wild thunderstorm struck with torrential rain and lightning that reached across the sky like a witch's fingers. I cracked my window and stuck my hand out to feel the warm drops and smell the moisture and ozone. After the storm, a spectacular sunset looked like a painted canvas in my rear view mirror. I arrived in Flagstaff, Arizona around 7:30pm, unpacked my car and carried the cats into the room. They explored the room while I tried to figure out where to get something to eat.

Flagstaff was a strange town, at least where I stayed in the Motel 6. Around 9:00pm, I decided to try my luck at finding dinner. I followed the street that the hotel was on and finally settled on a Taco Bell. Not my first choice, but it was food and familiar. As me and another car with out of state plates drove toward the drive through, the sign darkened as did the drive through window. Seems that Flagstaff closed down at about 9:00pm A train track literally ran right beside the hotel in front of the parking lot, and each train that passed by blew it's horn right at the motel, it seemed. This wasn't a pleasant horn, but a blaring, obnoxious, and nerve shattering horn that filled the room and drowned out any noise inside. After that, the roaring sound of the train filled the room, not much quieter than the horn, shaking the bed and windows. I hoped there wouldn't be many trains that night. My hopes were shattered, about ten times through the night as I was rudely awoken from sleep. Word to the wise, if you plan to stay in a hotel in Flagstaff, ask about the proximity to the train tracks.

That morning, I woke up to an empty parking lot. The night before, it was full of cars, but mine was the only one shining in the sun. Another indication that I am a later riser than most. As I packed my car, another train roared by, carrying tanks painted with desert camouflage. A sign of the times. I took my time, making sure I left nothing behind, and was on the road by noon to Amarillo, TX.

But back to Hope. I am feeling good, but I am aware that the forest looms on the fringes of town, ever inviting and enticing. It will be up to me not to wander too far from the city lights.

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