Unless some people told you, you’d never know they’d been on vacation.
Constant existential nagging.
Feeling it pretty bad lately.
The stable half that pushes for self-sufficiency
Is in a lockstep battle with
The unstable half that pushes for self-agency.
I don’t think I’ll ever be fully settled in my life,
One of those lives lived in
A permanent state of temporality.
I think it’s a side effect of moving a lot while growing up,
Never having much time to put down roots
And grow from that.
Ever since moving to Austin,
I’ve always felt itinerant,
Like I’m always two paychecks from disaster
And will have to move out in an emergency.
That’s certainly not the case anymore,
But nothing really feels like it lasts forever.
Some things, I’m grateful that they don’t last forever.
What doesn’t last forever is
My youth and agency.
I need to punch Eject and go wander.
The wanderlust is strong.
But I don’t need to,
I want to,
I desire to.
But then what?
Do I return back home,
Return to zero,
Lose concrete resources
And gain ephemeral experiences?
Lose personal capital and
Gain a camera roll?
I don’t think Nietzsche and Sartre ever had a proper answer.
In 1991, German director Wim Wenders released his magnum opus “Until the End of the World“. It is the penultimate road movie. It follows this young woman Claire on her journey from self destruction to finding her purpose to being a saving angel. It shows that we really are connected. The scale of this film is breathtaking. Although it had critical acclaim, it never had a wide audience.
I finally saw it a month ago. After hearing about it over coffee, yet knowing about it for a few years, I rented it. The only copy available anywhere in town was on VHS, so I had to dig my VCR out of storage. Even then it was at almost 3 hours long. On the first viewing, I was blown away. But there are more edits of this film than for Blade Runner.
Today, I took the opportunity to see the film in its original director’s cut, remastered, on the big screen, weighing in at 295 minutes (almost 5 hours). It was amazing. So beautiful. It’s so long that it truly is two movies in one. It shifts gears just before intermission. The first half is a globe-trotting chase of intrigue and exploration. The second half takes place almost completely in an aboriginal cultural preservation center in the Australian outback. It went from “Where in the world is Carmen Sandiego” to “Johnny Mnemonic”-gone-native. It went from an expansive examination of the human condition on a broad scale, to an intimate examination of the human condition on a deep scale.
What the 5-hour cut had over the 3-hour cut was a lot of backstory, sidelines, and asides. We see the reason behind the character actions, such as why Claire was on a path to self-destruction. So much is explained, so much is explored. In watching the 3-hour cut, the characters go from one thing to another, and in the awkward jumps you can tell that there were some assumptions the viewer had to make. Those are fleshed out in the full cut.
It didn’t exactly have a happy ending, but it didn’t need to. It had a satisfying aftertaste. I was absolutely blown away, and I felt the connection to the characters and to the world more deeply. I feel like I’ve been on a vacation. I’m still savoring the flavor, texture, and aroma; it’s that good. I don’t have any life choices hanging in the balance, no actions to take, no resolutions. It’s not life changing, but I see things differently. Just like a road movie, my life is a string of events and episodes with motion but no direction; a ship under power with no captain at the wheel. Maybe, somewhere in the self destruction, I can find a transoceanic current to draw me toward making the world better. Who knows the sea?
driving around texarkana area tonight. wandering. thinking.
funny how the new happens, old memories still return.
north jefferson. in the highbeams, telephone poles look like crucifixes. fields of them. three sixteen. gethsemane. sheol. texarkana.
sugarhill road. old beech street haunts, youth groupers lived there. parents successful. edge of town, suburbs.
sanderson lane. saw stars. cassiopeia. mash of others. streak of cloud confused the glow of the milky way. blurry x in the sky.
distant stars. distant headlights startled, mustn’t get caught on the side of the road looking up.
mustn’t be caught wanting to be alone. inviting inquisitions. accusations. trouble.
started car, drove away.
waffle house. read dharma bums over coffee. found a chum behind the counter, told me to read palahniuk. told him to read miller.
cruised the downtown. bright lights, empty city.
turned right. hwy 82. widened to 4 lanes. still 45mph.
turned left at orphanage, where first girl laura lived. confusing times, those. longest month. first 2 weeks in love, remainder alone together.
drove to rondo, turned right. cruised past amy’s house; father ministered rondo methodist church. retired. house has changed hands.
phil and sandy’s old place. now just sandy’s place.
turned left, 82 outbound. thinking. remembering. upward bound trips.
stars through the window. geolocation by the domes of light on the horizon. there’s hope.
there’s nashville. there’s ashdown. there’s magnolia.
stars and moon came up. the old man. the half moon. the couple arising in glory. winter’s first glimpse of orion, my old, old friend. memories.
fields at ouachita, talking, communing with the old man. asking questions, questions.
stars in the window on my radio. wrapping it around, inspired returning to the inspiration. the born back to the place of birth.
heavy moment and smiles.
found myself in stamps. tiny sleepy burg. orange lights, dusty houses, gravel garages and propane tanks.
ez mart has no bathroom. sacred and profane. u turn and found a boat ramp. pissing in the river.
made something live. left my dark mark on the light caliche. train whistles and dark lights. key to pedal to getting out of there.
returning. remembering. arkansas life. distant memory, but soaked into the makeup of me.
had a tough time of it then. knew things but didn’t know things. smart but stupid. brilliant but ignorant.
built the half moon and old man i am.
dreams. had dreams. spoke poetic jibberish, it all came from here, but needed the distance to speak the verses.
no support structure, no friendly air.
but in finding my people outside, i found my voice. then i lost my people along the way.
and then austin.
those voices spoke poison. so ragged and bedraggled. so negative. so cruel.
enough time with them, my own voice stopped. creativity shriveled. mustn’t get caught looking up.
mustn’t be caught wanting to express. inviting derision. humiliation. trouble.
why did i care about their words? why close lips and hope to sneak on by?
texarkana. the source and fuel for my psyche. texarkana. where i lost my soul. fields of crucifixes. three sixteen.
our god is an awesome god and holy holy holy.
no way. no fucking way.
43 and on mute. 25 years hence trying to find myself. ongoing battle, eternal war.
turning. wandering. searching.
searching for the voice.
remembering the dreams.
i miss tomorrow. tomorrow is not what it used to be.
ever hoping, but driving into the uncertainty.
Went to Texarkana last weekend to visit the family. Had 4 days off and needed to get out of Austin for a few. Started bellyaching on the way up, and eventually went to the ER – docs don’t know what it is, just gave me some pills and a bill. Spent the rest of the time hanging out with the mom, watching TV, refreshing Facebook. Spent some time upgrading her computer to the latest version of Ubuntu so she would still get security updates. Met with the sister, the nephew, and one of the nieces. Overall, it was a vanilla time, the kind of vanilla I needed, health notwithstanding. Now spending my work week convalescing back in Austin.
I’ve been invited to submit an original story for a friend’s Halloween story anthology. It’s a first for him, and he’s opened the invite to a select group of staff, former staff, and regulars of Epoch Coffee. When I was driving home from Texarkana, I was considering some stories, plots, and ideas. Things are flowing, at least on the back-end mythos behind the actual story. The problem now is follow-through and execution of the writing. I have a basic skeleton mapped out — it’s a space horror ghost story — and I have a handful of characters, ships, planets, legends, etc., but the mood, the tone, the writing…I think I need to work on that. More to come as it develops.