Sunday, July 19, 2020

Finding a new Italy while "gone to look for America"

It must have been on the last leg of my road trip around America, when I realized the Italy I was missing was passing by me at 75 miles an hour. How could it be? I wasn’t in Piedmont or Tuscany, Sicily or Abruzzo. I was somewhere between Utah and Colorado. It was the American West, not the Old World. There were no ancient buildings. But there were scores of ancient rocks, mounds, mesas, mountains. It was a bit disconcerting. There were no plethora of wineries, although there were the occasional ones.

No, it was something else I had tapped into. It was the road. The trail. The journey.

All those times in Italy, we were going from one place to another, visiting wineries. Long hauls of 5-6 hours, going from Tuscany to Calabria, Alto-Adige to the Marche. Drive, drive, drive. Italy as a series of roads and autostradas, all the way down to narrow little lanes. Going from fast (140kph+) to a gravity defying crawl up a goat trail. All for the sake of wine.

Now it was different. It wasn’t about wine. Or Italy. I’d decided after the 4th of July to take a road trip to check in on an elder sister. She was about 2,200 miles from me. So, I was looking at a round trip of 4,400 miles, door to door to door. 69 hours of driving time. And when it would be completed, those 69 hours of drive time, I’d arrive at the very same age, for the plan was to be back in Texas for my birthday. It seemed so predesigned, so symmetrical, well-proportioned. So intentional. It wasn’t. But it was an odyssey of sorts.

I’d driven around America in the past. You know, the Kerouac-ian adventure with several buddies. Stopping in towns one would never had deigned to go. But we hit the road, all “gone to look for America,” as the song went.

Now, 40+ years later, solo, with my little car packed with dried fruits and nuts and jerky and water (still and sparkling), and my towels and hand sanitizer and masks and podcasts and playlists, and the new Bob Dylan CD just for old time analog’s sake. I was getting up close and personal with my windshield.

It wasn’t so much where I was going, or even what I was going to do, as much as just the sheer act of getting out in the world in a time when there is so much upheaval, so much apprehension, so many people wanting answers and so many answers which aren’t addressing the real issues in our world. But the world wasn’t crashing in on me. In fact, I didn’t mind the four months of self-quarantine. I mean by that, while the world was experiencing unimaginable upheaval (and still is) I managed to get out of the way and tether my boat to an eddy on the river. I’d wait it out, be a good citizen, and let the storm rage above.

And it was so, just like that.

And then it wasn’t, for two weeks. I was venturing out from the cave, even though I saw blood on the ground in front of it. It was dried blood, I told myself, as I put my vehicle in drive and headed west.

The rhythm of the road soon replaced the ones we’d adopted early on in 2020. I had plenty of food and water, so no need to stop for them. Only for gasoline, the occasional pit stop and a resting spot. I could do this. With cameras charged up and SD cards empty, I had endless opportunities to take photos along the way, if I so desired. But I placed no demands upon myself, save for getting from point A to point B and so on. Without any rush, but also not to dawdle.

That rhythm I mentioned above? It kicked in, and with it, a mindscape that was alert but calm. It was all passing before my eyes. I searched for the apt metaphors, and probably should have written them down (or recorded them), but I didn’t. I just wanted to be unencumbered, wanted to see the America that was right in front of me, without making a fuss about it, bypassing any interface with my ego. I played one of my favorite roles in life, that of the invisible man. At 75 miles per hour.

And that’s where I’ll leave it for now. This was a long trip, and not one that can be approached in one blog post. There’ll be more. Soon.

wine blog +  Italian wine blog + Italy W


Anonymous said...

can't wait to hear what comes next!

Vino Curiosa said...

hey I just realized that I hadn't logged in before commenting. I came here for the wonderful wine writing (that my girlfiend told me about) but this is great! Can't wait to hear more!

Orly said...

Doing about a 3000 mile trip too this week. Los Angeles up to Idaho to see family and then off to Yellowstone and Jackson, Wyoming. It will be good to get out of LA with shutdowns, masks and protests for the past 4 months. Picking up an 8 week old Labrador puppy in the “middle of nowhere Utah” on our way back home. Lost our 9 year Labrador last year and it took a year to get over it before we wanted a new puppy.
By the way, love your writings and musings.

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